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Whips

Whips vs. Pendragon Estate!

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Whips    3

Selona 21st, 3632 bby.

Li meditated, still hurting everywhere. The rumbling of the ship did her no favors, she seethed with hatred of Morgana, who had foolishly led those criminals to her doorstep. She'd endangered her entire livelihood on Castell! She'd kill Brillante for this! She'd grow strong enough to torch her with her mind! She'd flay her!

Just gotta get strong enough," she told herself, feeding off her rage at her teacher, letting it strengthen her. She focused it, letting it twist around her heart like a snake as she built up her reserves. It felt like she was on the threshold of something, but could not be certain what.

But no matter how angry she was at Morgana, she was angrier at herself. Killing Nordra had set all this in motion. But he hadn't given her any choice! She was being shook down! Her livelihood was being stolen! What had they expected when they had burned down her homestead?!

Li never rolled over for anyone...anyone...unless given no alternative. Her father had taught her that. You roll to chumps, her father had said, while skinning a Bantha after having murdered it's sand people caretaker, you roll to anybody. And once you roll to anybody, you never stop.

He'd never thought much about killing Sand People. Not because he viewed them as monsters...he knew enough to know they weren't that. But they lived by the law of the jungle, as he had put it. They lived by the sword. And if you were bold enough to live by the sword, you were bold enough to die by it. The Sand People killed damn near everyone...so what right had they to complain when it was done to them? At least, that was how her father had explained it, had justified it.

When she was younger she had hated the self serving justification. She had loved her father, but the man forgot about a law even older than that...the law of Karma.

She had been very young when it had been explained to her...a persons past actions determine their future...and generally if someone acted wicked then wickedness was their due. This was a mind-blowing concept to a five year old girl. She'd never been able to decide if it was true or not. At this point, she wasn't certain she cared. After all, with these powers, why act as a passive recipient when you could act as a Deliverer?

It was with this mindset she went forward. Once she'd figured out these powers she'd be a law unto herself. That was if she survived.

Li continued to meditate in the sparse crew quarters for the next few hours, the pilot she had rescued generally avoiding her. He didn't like what he'd seen in her eyes. Those icy blue things scared him to death, and they both knew that. Li couldn't help but be proud of that just a teeny bit...no one had feared her on Tattooine...then again, she hadn't been trying to be feared, merely alone with her child, who helped keep the desert madness away with love.

The thought that her child would be ripped from her once more caused a surge of fear through her...the thought she'd be alone, with nothing to show for all this scraping for power, for skill, doing this schutta's dirty work, breaking into some mansion owned by a man she didn't care about. But he knew black magic like Morgana did, so maybe she could get a different perspective. And maybe some sweet loot. She'd read about mansions, but had never seen them, the closest being whatever building those fat slimy Hutts were content to squeeze through. She'd snuck into a Hutt palace once, stealing loose credits, clothing, anything that wasn't nailed down. She mostly stole food and clothing though, because Dad had taught taking from others was perfectly acceptable if your goal was survival.

One of the few things that caused Li as a person no particular perturbation when it came to crime was stealing. Stealing was like taking Bantha's from sand people...and since she was trying to give herself a better future for her and her son, then stealing and killing whoever got in the way was just what came with the territory, nothing to feel guilt over.

Li snapped out of her meditation and moved...stiffly...the wounds she had sustained were barely out of the red zone. She decided to check her weapons.

She was gonna steal the shavit out of that place.

She had checked her new lever-action. She had unloaded it. Seven rounds left. Loud. She checked her knife. It was that trench stiletto she'd taken earlier from the first one to try and kill her. And that was it. Nothing else.

Li snarled in frustration. She was going in so underprepared. How was she going to go in? She needed more. Way more.

Li rose and left her bare quarters, she sought out the pale, scrawny, red headed pilot that was taking her to Mygeeto. He was stitching himself in the galley, sewing shut a wound on his leg. He was in a blue tank top and red overalls.

"Do you know where I can find weapons on Mygeeto?" Li asked. "And how close can you get me to Pendragon's estate?"

"Lady, I barely know where my gorram head is at," the Pilot snapped. "I been tortured, shot at, and Miss Creepy here wants me to tell her what to do. Look, Morgana called in a favor, so I paid back an outstanding debt to a Dark Jedi, 'cause a Dark Jedi is the LAST person I wanna owe anything to. You want weapons? There might be a blaster rifle around here, I dunno. As for how close can I get, Mygeeto authorities take a dim-as-kriff view of people landing outside legal landing spots, plus, no one knows we're coming. I can only get you as close as that mansion is to the nearest spaceport. Once you're on the ground, getting inside that bastard is your problem--"

"Don't..." Li snarled, reaching out with her hand. The Pilot stiffened and doubled over in pain, falling out of his seat.

"...take that tone with me, worm," she finished, releasing her hold over his body.

He rose, coughing. "You sure Morgana is your boss, not the other way around?"

"Only for the moment. But if you don't wanna see how well I've taken to her tutelage," she snarled again, beside him with the quietness of a Sandpanther before it leapt. "I suggest you start being a little more helpful."

The Pilot blinked a moment, deciding he'd come as close to getting his throat cut by her as he was comfortable with. His eyes slinked to the side, the messy kitchen area dirty with bandages and torn open antiseptics packs.

"There 'may' be a fence on the planet. He was at the star port last time I was at Mygeeto...but he may have packed up," the Pilot answered carefully. "Of course...all this is a moot point..."

"Why?" Li asked, inches from his face. She made sure he could see the teeth, particularly the canines. She wanted to tear his cheek open with them.

"Because all-knowing, all-prim-and-proper Morgana sent you to your death! Pendragon estate is a no man's land for thieves!"

"Good thing I'm not a man," Li snapped.

"You ain't human either, so don't go patting yourself on the back just yet, schutta," he snarled. "Pendragon Estate is run by a sadistic madman who happens to have enough friends in the banking clan that simply having their men pop him would be problematic. He's up there, he's holed up in that place, just near the mountains, just where it starts to get really cold. Nobody who tried to break in ever escaped. The people who worked there know it's a death trap...Pendragon hosts lavish parties, treats 'em to a real show...they watch, from the comfort of a lavish chamber, as people who've angered him are hunted down like animals by people he's tortured and starved. Makes 'em insane for the taste of meat, they say. The mansion is built like something between a maze and a military fort on the inside and not only are raving cannibals released for entertainment, they have men wearing stealth fields equipped with bows and arrows aiding in the hunt."

"And you know this how?"

"Because I almost found myself in said hellhole. I pissed Pendragon off, stole from him...he found out, so he sends one of his underlings, a chick armed with a light whip. Only reason I managed to escape is 'cuz Morgana happened to be around...and she held that debt over my head ever since. But she told me if I do this, the debts paid. Not you got your answers. Up to you what you do with them," he answered. "Now if it's all the same to you, I need to bring us out of hyperspace, and...you need to find some warm clothing."

The Pilot left, and Li went back to cursing Morgana. This was even worse than she thought.

Meditated to show restoration of uses. Force Wound X1. 24 uses left.

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Morgana    0

      Back in Castell, Morgana was sitting down and resting up from her injuries in trying to stall Whips' enemies long enough to help her escape which she suspected she succeeded in doing as she saw a single ship take off when she looked out her window. Besides that, the bandits turned to looking for them afterwards, probably the best indication that Li had indeed escaped her enemies who were now turning towards Morgana, the Mute, and Kev. Now, Morgana knew it wouldn't be long before their hideout was compromised and Morgana needed to make sure that Kev would survive even if she and the Mute did not: much as her interest was ultimately in ensuring her own survival, she needed Kev alive to still have some control over her even in death. If she could use Kev to direct Li to another, more experienced Sith Master, then she would have completed her job if she did not survive this battle.

 

       Still, she intended to succeed even if it cost her the Mute (something she could live with, if needed) and for that, she needed a plan of action. "Kev, is there any chance you can find a databank and produce schematics of this place? I need to know what escape routes we can use if we need to make a run for it after we've made our attempts to kill as many as we can, assuming there are still any left by the time we're through. With the will of the Force on our side, we shouldn't need those escape routes but we can never be too careful: we'll also need routes we can utilize to ambush them, even if we have to sacrifice the building in order to kill them all off," Morgana began.

 

       If they were to defeat these mercs, they needed to outsmart them. The mercs had weapons that nullified a lightsaber's ability to deflect, they needed to neutralize those weapons before engaging. They had numbers, the Mute and Morgana needed to reduce those numbers as much as possible before taking them head on. The sooner they did these things and avoided dying, the sooner they could triumph then wait for Li to return, all the while getting the Mute offworld. It was then that Morgana thought of a way that two birds might be killed with one stone: if she could neutralize the remaining rocketeers, she could make it possible for the Mute to take a ship and get out with Morgana's hope being that some of the men were sent after him. But how to convince them to pursue him if she could do that?

 

       Ah ha! She could convince them that Kev was onboard with the Mute, aiming to reunite with his mother and if they could catch the ship, they could capture him and ransom him for Li's life or something of the sort. Meanwhile, Kev would actually be safely within one of the ventilation shafts or even down in the smaller sewage lines that had been closed off to use for years on end. But if they had tear gas, then he'd needed a mask for going down there but this was a butcher shop: surely they had one for handling the flesh of dead animals. It was then that Morgana began to look around while Kev and the Mute were getting ready for the next stage, the former fulfilling her request for schematics while the Mute most probably kept a lookout. 

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Whips    3

The XS freighter touched down on the snowy spaceport, having braved the asteroid field that surrounded the planet. Li had scrounged up a heavy coat from the Pilots closet and thrown it around herself. She entered the cockpit.

"So this fence who might or might not be here," she said to him in a growl. "Where would he be if he was still here?"

"Spaceport security was getting tougher last time I was here," the Pilot answered. "If he's still here, he probably has moved his operation to his home out in the fields, south of the starport terminal entrance, about half a kilometer out from the main entrance. Maybe they rebuilt the tunnels."

"Tunnels?"

"Underground smuggler network. The Muuns been trying to crush it for months, but the Lurmens keep rebuilding the network."

"What are Lurmens?"

"The original owners of this planet before the Muuns seized control," the red headed man answered. "Short and furry. Bunch a stupid pacifists...like anybody in this galaxy can AFFORD that luxury."

Li seemed amused by this concept. "Pacifists? They won't fight?"

"Most of them won't. And even the one's that do don't kill. But if you're after Pendragon..." he said slowly. "They MIGHT be willing to make an exception."

"He's THAT bad?" she asked.

"You have no idea," the Pilot growled. "When I tell you he's sick, he's sick. Not in front of other Muuns of course, no, no, no. He would never be able to do business with them if they knew the full depth of his depravity. It's at these parties he throws that the real him comes out. Otherwise...it's like he's wearing a mask in public..."

A part of Li stirred uncomfortably at this statement, reminded of her own penchants.

"I'm starting to figure out out why Morgana didn't want to face him herself...even Sorceresses can handle only so much crazy..."

"Oh?" he snapped, turning off the engines, rolling his eyes.

Li craned her head to him. "I don't consider myself crazy if that's what you're implying."

"Then what the kriff are you?"

"A survivor," she said, staring out of the cockpit window. "A survivor who finds this Galaxy bizarre. Difficult to comprehend. Apparently, most people are so weak that an army of thugs and murderers have banded together, thinking they can have it all and force the Galaxy to pay tribute. I mean, we had that same problem on Tattooine, but I didn't think it was actually possible to have an entire civilization of criminals. They say all Hutts are criminals, but that's not quite accurate. Some are capable of being perfectly legitimate. But these Imperials...why would anyone be stupid enough to let them get that out of control? Why did this thing you people call society not kill them all when it had the chance?" she asked, genuinely confused.

The pilot looked at her wryly. "A lot of people have been asking that question for a ridiculously long time. You won't be the last, I assure you."

"Huh. Well, if they do end up winning, it'll be Society's own damn fault for treating them with kid gloves," Li remarked, still not quite fully understanding the Sith Empire. But the truth was even if she had understood it and it's policies, what it was fighting for, to her it would just be an 'other'...something else she could exploit for her own ends. Whose laws she could find a way to bend or ignore at her whim, and any ordinary person loyal to that system who tried to stop her in the process would die...painfully. 

"There's some bitter truth to that," he agreed. "I've had some time to think."

"You can think?"

"Kriff you. I can do 'one' thing to help you. A guy at spaceport security still owes me a favor from about a year back. I can comm him, ask him to not have the guys outside check you for weapons. But that's the best I can do. Once you step off this ship you are completely on your own: I have to hightail it back into orbit before Pendragon realizes I'm here."

"What kind of a name is Pendragon anyway?" 

"How the kriff should I know? I only ever knew him as Pendragon. That's all anyone's ever known him as. I only met him once and once was enough. He finds out I'm here before I clear orbit he'll send mercs after me. So if it goes south and you get caught don't go expecting a rescue. And if you get the chance," the Pilot said, leaning towards her. "You put him down like the animal he is. He is rabid. Like a dog can go rabid. I know Darksiders are evil...but there's evil and there is whatever the kriff he is."

"I'll keep it in mind," she replied snidely. "Have a nice day."

***

Li headed off from the landing platform. The whole place was strange to a desert dweller.

She had never been this cold, for starters. Desert nights could get very cold, but If one stayed indoors and kept a fire going, one could tolerate it. Here thought...the world was mountain ranges and endless snow. It was so cold it somehow burned. Li hated this place already. 

Her slugthrower and trench knife were in large pockets of the heavy winter coat she wore. She walked the narrow bridge of the platform, suspended off a mountain ridge and what looked to be a bunker-like Starport terminal. She crossed the security barrier, and three strange brown skinned aliens with flat, wide foreheads large jaws and fangs in black and gray armor walked up to her.

"State your business human," one of them growled. "Present your passport!"

Just then, the com-link on the second Alien's belts blared. He picked it up. "This is chief of security Ujot. The human is to be allowed through. No searches."

"That's not normal procedure. Whose vessel is that parked outside?" the Iotran growled back.

"Second Lieutenant Kinso, you will follow orders or you can start looking for work...along with the rest of your compatriots," the Chief on the other end growled back.

The three aliens stared at Li. Li smirked, holding up her hands. "I know I'm hot, but it's rude to stare, gentleman!"

The aliens scowled at her but backed off. "Keep an eye on her...something about the way she stares ain't right..." she heard the third whisper.

Li shrugged and began walking through the terminal lobby, watching the snow hit the panes of a transparisteel window. The star port had a smooth Eco-architectural feel to it, arches blending into the ceiling, benches seemingly melting into the black marble floor of an otherwise off-white interior. She spotted crystal formations hung decoratively on the ceiling like chandeliers.

"Welcome to Crynot Intergalactic Spaceport!" a female, perky voice on the P.A. System announced. "A public terminal run by the IBC, this spaceport is among the finest on Mygeeto, welcoming everyone from diplomats to entrepreneurs looking to make their fortune here. So whether you are here to explore Mygeeto's vast and beautiful lands or here on business, we hope you enjoy your stay!"

"Pff. Yeah, right," she muttered, heading past people she didn't really notice nor care about. They blurs to her, obstacles. Sometimes she really couldn't even recall Morgana's face, because she didn't really care. Morgana was nothing to her except something to destroy eventually. Painfully.

Li walked casually past the lobby and to the main entrance. Before she walked out, she stopped at an information desk, secured behind an oval booth with a large maroon canopy over it. There was a tall, lordly Muun kicking back on his seat, reading a data pad.

Li stared. She had never seen a Muun before. Only aliens she were truly familiar with were Hutts, Twileks, Zabraks, the occasional Trandoshan, one of those funny looking Mantis creatures, which especially creeped her out, and that one time she'd been forced to kill something called an Anzati, which tried to suck her brains out. Also, there was whatever the hell that witch that only looked like a Twilek had been.

The Muun, like all his species, had a long forehead and thin, gaunt features, dressed in maroon colored civilian robes. "Yes, what is it, human?"

"Do you know the directions to Pendragon Estate?"

The Muun raised a brow. "And what business do you have there?"

"Gotta make bank, son," Li answered.

"How delightfully thuggish," The Muun replied, disinterested as he went back to reading. "I suppose if you have a death wish, who am I to stop you? Pendragon is up the road two kilometers from here, through a small pass between two cliffs.

"Death wish?"

The Muun continued to read from his data pad. "Even Pendragon's money can't stop all the rumors. But as you yourself put it with your utterly charming little colloquialism..."

"The kriff's a colloquialism? Is that Muun-speak?"

The Muun sighed. "Oh, you're definitely going to make bank here. Ta-ta, ma'am."

"Um...ta-ta?"

The Muun looked at her. "It means good day."

"Why the kriff didn't you say that then? You confuse me. I don't like you."

"The feeling is mutual ma'am, I assure you."

"You use a lot of fancy words."

"Yes, that's what a college education buys you," the Muun said. "Will there be anything else? A dictionary, perhaps?"

Li laughed in spite of how pissed she was. "See you later."

"If you're going to Pendragon Estate, I seriously doubt that."

Li huffed petulantly, deciding she would snap his neck when she got back from Pendragon's.

***

Li walked on the lonely path, passing by an inhabited settlement, ignoring what looked like festivities, clutching her heavy winter coat, face bitten by cold. She could see large white crystals jutting out of the rocks and boulders. A frigid world of frigid people. So cold.

Thoughts of murdering Morgana kept her warm. She knew how Morgana would die...the same way the man who had burned down her home, Kolbu, had died. Li had whipped him to death. She might as well start living up to her nickname.

Journeying up the road, she spotted what looked like a very small dwelling, too small for a human or Muun to stand upright in. It looked like it was carved from a rock, and had no windows save one in the front. Little crystals jutted out from the home.

"He's still in business, in case you're wondering."

Li spun around, it was a woman. She wore a long gray dress with a gray blindfold. She was a statuesque woman, middle aged, but still very beautiful. Her brown, shoulder length hair was tied in a pony tail. Her face was smooth but oval in shape. Her hands were behind her back.

Li stared. Something was off. Why wasn't she in warm clothing? More to the point, why hadn't Li sensed her? Morgana had drilled that lesson in after telekinesis.

She remembered suddenly that Morgana had mentioned it was possible, though difficult, to hide ones presence in the Force.

"Beg your pardon?" Li asked, suspicious.

The woman clasped her hands behind her back. "The Fence, of course. He had to close up operations at the space port. Damned Iotrans actually started doing their jobs for once. But not enough to kill the smuggling."

"You buy from him regularly?"

"Oh, no, not me. I'm here on business."

"What kind?"

"Talent scouting," the woman answered with a wry smile. "Not wise to make just one investment. Especially when one deserted me so recently. Not sure how to take that rejection, to be honest...in retrospect perhaps I came on a little strong. Should have played hard to get. But I have it on good authority I'm...something of an acquired taste. Still though...I probably would have overlooked his rejection if he'd come to his senses. Corellian men...too headstrong, but that's what makes them sooo...enticing..." she said licking her lips at the thought of tasting his. And maybe killing him afterward.

"Sounds like your business is seduction."

The Woman smirked. "You could say that."

"What are you? A...lady of the night?"

Another smirk. "Technically. But I don't often get into someone's pants...I get under their skin. I say all the things they are afraid to say out loud."

"You're a strange hooker."

The woman grinned. Li was terribly frightened suddenly, but could not understand why. It was the kind of fear a child has when they see the closet door creek open by itself in the dead of night. It wasn't so much that the door was opened. It was the question of what was behind it.

This woman...for reasons Li couldn't quite understand, she thought of the strange woman as that something behind the closet door.

"Refreshingly blunt. I can respect that."

"There...there something I can do for you?"

The woman shook her head. "No. On the other hand...perhaps there is something I can do for you..."

"I'm good. Thanks."

"Oh, but you're marching off to your doom. Did your little shavit of a master even give you a proper tool?"

"How the hell do you know about me?"

"I always keep track of the one's that intrigue me. And you my dear, intrigue me," the Woman replied. "I rarely leave my abode, but you have too much promise to leave things entirely to chance or that incompetent, Brillante."

"You know Morgana?"

"I know OF her. I wasn't impressed. I mean, I'm no prize. I make mistakes, but the way I hear it, the woman is TRYING to get herself killed...too flamboyant," the Woman answered snidely. "And here she is, throwing a perfectly teachable apprentice to the grinder FAR too early. Ah well. Best to run before you can walk. I do hope you kill her someday."

"You and me both, lady."

"There's a good girl," the woman said as she smiled. 

"You got a name?" Li asked, terrified by this point, though hiding it behind a mask of sarcasm.

A chuckle. "What's in a name? Not like you identify with yours."

"What's behind your back?"

"A...welcoming gift. I sometimes give them out to street Darksiders like yourself who I see potential in." At this the strange woman presented a rectangular white box, tied with a red foil ribbon.

"What's inside it?" Li asked.

The woman shrugged. "A gift, as I said. Nothing sinister. I can place it on the ground, if you like."

The woman did so before Li could object. "How do you know I'll accept it?" Li asked finally.

"Because you're curious, like a real Darksider should be," the Woman answered. "And because you like to cheat. Oh and do watch out for Pendragon...there must be some reason he failed his Sith training. Perhaps he was too warped for even his own master to stomach. At least, that's my suspicion."

The Woman began to walk away. Li dared not follow, watching until the woman disappeared.

She stared at the box in the snowfall. It was three minutes before she picked it up. It felt like hardwood.

She heard the door open. A scratchy, gruff, though somehow diminutive voice of a male made her turn around.

"Is it gone?" the four foot tall furry Lurmen asked. It's head seemed larger than the neck it rested on and had golden-orange eyes with a small mouth and snout close to it's face. It's fur was ashen gray, and wore black and yellow rags and cloth shoes.

Li looked at the road again. No sign of the woman. "Yeah, she's gone."

"Not she. It," the Lurmen answered. "I smelled it, even in the wind.  Vile."

"What's...it...smell like?"

"Death...and suffering. Blood too," the Lurmen snapped. "I'm surprised anyone could encounter it and live."

The Lurmen paused. "You smell of murder, though not like 'it'. What do you want?"

"A pilot I traveled with said you were a fence."

"Shhhh!" the Lurmen said, putting a long, clawed finger to his snout. "Not so loud! Someone could be listening! I already got shut down at the space port on suspicion alone! Come inside..."

Li sighed, and crammed herself into the small dwelling, crouching and sitting in the corner. It smelled strange in the tiny home full of odds and ends. She didn't recognize most of the objects.

"This pilot that mentioned me wouldn't happen to be a red-head would he?"

"Yeah. That's him," she said gruffly, forced to sit in an almost fetal position.

"Thought I'd heard the last of him after Pendragon chased his sorry ass off Mygeeto," the Lurmen replied, getting some stew in a bowl for himself. "You here to kill Pendragon?"

"Maaaaayyyybe..." she answered coyly.

"Well good if you are. Mygeeto is bad enough with the IBC trampling all over my people...but Pendragon is worse than any of those officials. Runs a whole network of bribes, murderers, torturers..."

"To what end? What's he gain from this...cruelty?"

The Lurmen looked at her with what she guessed was a sour expression for a Lurmen. "Shavits and giggles. Men like Pendragon don't need an end. They're creatures of impulse. He'll kill other Muun's, even arrange for the deaths of Muun's way above his own rank just for amusement. But he's clever enough that he doesn't get caught. And what he does to my own people...all my friends and family moved away..."

"What does he do?"

The Lurmen looked at her, clenching his fists. "We end up on his table. We're delicacies to him."

Li raised an eyebrow. "Why are you still here?"

"He ate my wife...while she was pregnant. Alive." There was murderous rage in the Lurmen's voice.

Li's blood ran cold. "No wonder Morgana didn't want to face him. Bastard's sick as they come."

"Muuns look down on non-Muuns. They think of us as immature and fit only for exploitation. But even the staunchest, most arrogant Muun would recoil at the thought of committing his crimes," the Lurmen  explained. "If you're talking to me, it means you want weapons, right? I can give you them...long as you promise to pay me when it's all over."

"I could die going in there."

"But I'm going to be an optimist. See, I have connections too. You kill Pendragon and rob his mansion? You bring a cut back to me, and I'll open my network up to you for future purchases. But make sure you bring me Pendragon's head. I'm going to mount it on my wall if you succeed."

"I don't live on Mygeeto, Lurmen."

"Doesn't matter. I can send merchants to you if you follow procedure."

"Deal," Li answered, in no position to refuse. "You got a name?"

"Kato," Kato answered, lifting a rug on his floor and revealing a wooden trap door, which he lifted and revealed a metal ladder. "Follow me," he said, climbing down it. Li awkwardly repositioned herself to follow. She managed to make her way down and climbed down to a large cavern cut from rock. There were tunnels leading to two different directions and the Lurmen lit some torches, revealing a number of chests and workbenches.

"Now, I can't give you stuff that's too expensive," Kato explained. "If you die, I don't get that stuff back. But I can give you some entry level items. Just pick what comes natural.

Li, still clutching her gift box, set it on a table and looked. She took her slug thrower rifle and knife out of her coat. "You got ammo for this?" she asked, handing him the rifle.

Kato examined it from all sides. "Thirty caliber...modified for close quarters..." he unloaded the round in the chamber. "Flat headed slug...I think I can help you out..."

As he searched a few boxes of ammunition, Li came across a metal bow and arrow set. It looked like a competition piece. Her father had taught her how to shoot a bow and arrow when she was younger, but it had been a few years since she had used one. Her father had used them to both bring down Bantha's and kill unarmored sand people. He'd often use their clothing to get close, then ambush them, having studied their habits.

"Hey, you're not too attached to this, are you?" she asked Kato.

"Oh that. Odd ball sold it to me. Markets limited for it but still...if you wanna use it I see no reason why you shouldn't."

Li went rummaging through the chests. She picked up what looked to be a black, one-piece body armor made of fiber. It'd stop a knife, but not much else. It came with a hoodie. There were curious clasps on the front, on the abdomen, and to the side. She spotted a black pentagram on the neck.

"I'll take this," she said. "Where'd you get this?"

Kato looked at the armor. "Iotrans found the corpse of a female assassin last month in one of these Muun kriffs estates. It looked like she had accidentally tripped while attempting to evade patrols by going down a flight of stairs. They aren't certain but they think she worked for an organization that calls itself Pentagram."

"Pentagram?"

"Yeah. See the funny star on the collar? That's their symbol."

"What do they do?"

"That's just the thing...no one's really sure. No one's been taken alive that worked for them. They gotta be relatively small...but they seem to be popping up in the Republic in particular, though I've heard rumors they've dared to operate in the Sith Empire. The only reason anyone knows about them is because they didn't manage to kill all the witnesses. No one knows what they're up to."

"Huh," Li muttered. She spotted what looked like a simple metal cudgel and took that also. 

"By the way, that...thing outside...what did it give you?"

"Good question," Li replied, going over to her gift and unwrapping it. She hesitantly opened the box, with Kato watching.

Inside she found a number of parts and a power cell. A flimsi schematic and a large, but folded note written in cursive,  and a dark red crystal. She took it out and lay it on the bench, opening the book first.

I'm assuming that even your incompetent teacher at least instructed you in the basics of form one, it read. What you have are the parts to constructing your own lightsaber. I even went to the trouble of procuring you a synthetic crystal. This one is not like the one you've no doubt seen in Morgana's blades. It's color is a bloodier red than what most Darksiders put in their weapons. 

To start, you will need to meditate on the crystal. A few hours if necessary. Infuse it with your hate and fury and it will bind to you. Focus your wrath into it. Make the crystal a part of you in the Dark Side. Give yourself to it. Place utter faith in it.

The schematic I have included will tell you how to assemble the weapon correctly: I machined parts I thought you might consider stylish looking.

I ask nothing in return for this. I made a mistake with my previous investment in that sense: Pushed too hard. By the end of this letter you will no doubt realize who I am. You will be rightly suspicious: What reason have I to be generous to you?

The answer is that I am a mature adult, able to recognize that my defeat was entirely my own fault due to arrogance. It's a personal flaw. This is not forgiveness, of course, don't mistake it for that. In your case, I saw simply too much budding talent and knew killing you and who you love most in revenge would be a tragic waste. Besides, if you truly keep to the Dark path you will make yourself alone in due time, so what need have I to act? Think of all this in truth as giving you enough rope to hang yourself with. 

Perhaps you will fail: there is always that possibility. If so, onto the next prospect. But if you succeed, I do wish you will have the courage to come visit me on Tattooine someday. I have far more to offer than that failed Sith leading you by the nose when it comes to the Dark Side.

One last bit of advice: Morgana may be a pretender but she is still quite dangerous in her own way. I would excercise patience before striking. Learn all you can coax out of her and butcher her afterward.

Sincerely, your generous benefactor.

P.S. If you survive, and you see Kev again, be sure to let him know that while I was quite furious at the way he humiliated me in my own sanctum at the time, I understand he was simply doing whatever it took to save you. While my beliefs prevent me from 'forgiving' him, he has earned my respect nonetheless and thus he can consider the matter 'forgotten' on my end of things.

Li went pale, hands trembling as she read the letter the Beast had written. She felt weak in the knees and needed to sit down.

"What'd it say?" Kato asked.

"A demon decided to show me favor. 'Why' is something else entirely. Perhaps in it's warped mind it considers this patronage."

"I recognize those parts in the box. I've sold lightsabers on the black market before," Kato admitted. "You might wanna think about quitting while you're ahead...I mean, after you settle things with Pendragon..."

Li looked at him. "Stick to your trade, Lurmen. I'll stick to mine."

The Lurmen held up his hands. "Fair enough..."

Li took out the red crystal and began to meditate on it, focusing her innate bloodlust and hatred of Morgana into it as she closed her eyes...

***

Meanwhile, on Castell...

Upon hearing Morgana's instructions, Kev began poking through the computer terminal of the office they had holed up in inside the meat factory. The thugs were still outside in the streets, in the dead of night expanding their search. It was only a matter of time before they discovered they were in the meat factory. 

The Mute, ever a mystery to those around him, silently watched from a window while Kev went through the database, having found the password scrawled on a note in a desk.

As the boy tried to find a map of the place, he asked the Mute after Morgana had left to search the place herself a question.

"So your master...what was her name?"

The Mute turned, stared, and headed to a scrap of paper with a nearby pencil.

He wrote the name on it and gave it to the boy.

"Huh," Kev said quietly out loud, but not loud enough that Morgana would hear it in case she was close by "That's a pretty name."

Kev stared up at the Mute, a tall, slightly tanned man with buzz cut hair in dark hand-me-down clothing, wearing a simple blindfold over sightless eyes.

"Why did you leave your master initially? I mean, I know you said why you weren't with her...but why were you gone in the first place?"

The Mute clutched his cane tightly, a cold sweat beading up on his forehead. Hesitantly, he took up the pencil, and after a few minutes of drawing on flimsi, showed him.

Kev stared. It depicted two stick figures armed with swords, entering an area where many stick figures lay scattered everywhere.

The shack he had drawn was the only thing truly detailed. It's door was open. On the inside of the shack there was nothing but a swirl...and swords inside that appeared to be on fire...

Kev did not press for details...it was doubtful the Mute could be more clear. But it was obvious whatever he had seen inside that shack had shaken him badly...badly enough to leave his master and take up drinking. The image frightened him for reasons he could not explain.

What was inside that had broken him like this?

Kev had no real time to wonder as the Mute tore up the image and through it in a trash bin. He was still sweating, on the verge of hyperventilating as he went back to his watch at the window.

Kev, after a few minutes brought up the schematics, printed them out and went looking for Morgana.

"There's two exits," he explained. "An emergency exit on the factory floor leading into a tunnel network that leads out to the streets. It was installed after a fire last year broke out and killed several workers who were cut off from the main exit when part of the ceiling collapsed. The second is an exit through the loading bays. We could try taking our chances in the tunnels, but they are small and narrow: We get caught by these jerks there with slug throwers it's a kill box. On the other hand, the loading bay exit is exposed once you leave the building...it wouldn't take them long to spot us from there. They could hem s in from three separate points...thoughts?"

Just then the Mute came running. He tapped his cane once in clear alarm, pointing to the main exit. Flashlights could be seen out the window.
 

 

sorry for the long post but I had to set things up

Edited by Whips

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Morgana    0

     Morgana knew there would be next to no time for preparation once they chose to make their run for it so she decided to begin setting a plan in motion now. If Kev was to stand a chance of survival, allowing her to further manipulate Li to her will and make her understand the boy was at her mercy, he needed the highest chance of living that could be given to him. She hated saying as much but it was true and she knew better than to deny that about her own self-interest in making a weapon designed to destroy Hyperion and be easily disposed of when that purpose was finished. So her scheme was bold as it was reckless, but it would be the last thing that those blasted mercenaries would be expecting but of course, she ushered Kev and the Mute to duck to the darkest corners of the meat factory in order to buy themselves a bit more time. Once they were in the corner and the flashlights passed over, she decided that she would let them in on her game plan which was many-fold in the goals it was meant to accomplish.

 

     "Alright, here's the plan and since we may have only one shot, I want you two to listen up good. Kev, you are going to take the emergency tunnel and you are going to run like your little legs have never been able to carry you before to the next hideout that your mother told you to go to. Don't tell me or the Mute where you're going so that way, if we get captured and tortured we don't give you away under the pressure. 

 

      "So far as I've been able to tell, there are still forty of those kriffing shavits even with how many we killed on the way here so if we can divide them and weaken their strength in numbers then good. Kev, you're going to learn about the emergency tunnels and since you're the smallest, you have the best chance of crawling in the tight spaces hence why you're going there. If we're luck and the Mute and I succeed in what we're going to do, a guardian demon I created may soon be joining the fight though why he didn't before, I have no clue," Morgana began. She gave a pause to see if they had questions to ask even if she knew the Mute wouldn't be able to utter his in the same way Kev's could but he did have flimsi and a pencil nearby; when they didn't she continued.

 

       "Mute, you're going to see if you can reach the ships in the docking bay and make some of them follow then get a ship and board it, get flying as fast as you can and then see if you can give us some aviary support. My demon and I will try to neutralize the anti-spacecraft weaponry they've got before you give us the air cover but don't destroy them outright: try to simply scatter them then leave them to me and the demon joining our efforts. We'll pick them off one by one from there and you can even leave without a single goodbye if you wish and the ship has a hyperdrive capable of interstellar travel, even if it's just planet-hopping. I'll see if I can somehow signal my demon to help us through telepathy as we've forged a bond but you better be doing your parts and well on your way once I call to him, understood? If so, commit your routes to your memory, they seem to only want me and Li more than either of you so we will bait them by advertising we will give them what they want but putting them where we have the advantage; if there are no more questions, commit your routes to memory and remember to run when I tell you to leave," she added.

 

        She paused for a moment then let them go to commit their routes to memory as she assumed watch of the mercs' approach, hoping that Seth was somewhere nearby to begin doing his part and helping the trio the hell out rather than lounging around and waiting for her orders. He probably had seen the chaos of their initial battle and thought that Morgana was well out of harm's way but when her telepathy confirmed otherwise, she hoped the fact that the mercs weren't expecting him would give him more time to cut them down before they realized he was there. Otherwise, this plan was as good as dead in its tracks and it wouldn't take a genius to see why that would be so even with someone as evidently skilled as the Mute and a sorceress like herself on the team. She already proved herself to have been no match for the slugthrowers in close quarters and she wasn't eager to face them on their terms again nor repeat any of the other mistakes she made.

 

         Hoping that they were paying attention to the homework they were assigned, she reached out in the hopes that her bond was strong enough with Seth to make telepathy no problem. Seth... save me... destroy the mercs she said through the Force, making it short and simple in the hopes it'd reach him faster. Once she sent out the telepathic impulse, she waited and watched while she waited for him to either confirm the telepathy or make himself visible. Knowing Seth, he would likely perform the latter rather than the former and that was alright as she would know through the visual confirmation he'd likely provide with his lightsaber. Meanwhile, she kept a spotlight of her own (so to speak) on the mercs who were waving their torches to and fro and had fortunately not found them yet though how long that lasted remained to be seen.

 

          Unfortunately, they wouldn't have very long as the mercs started heading in the same direction: their direction. "I hope you hurried and remember your route because they're coming. Mute, soon as you're both finished, destroy that terminal so that the info doesn't fall into the wrong hands even if you have to cut it to hundreds of little pieces with your lightsaber then run. I'm going to see if I can draw some of their attention away from this place and give you both a running start from the rest, don't question me on this. If my demon gets on the move, they'll try to anticipate us but they won't expect him at all," Morgana told them. She jumped down at that time and ran outside, hoping to see if she could pinpoint a good path to see if she could draw their attention away from the other mercs, ten of whom had tried to see if they could take the long way around and behind the meat factory.

 

             Just in time, she saw a purple glow in the distance that she knew could only be coming from a lightsaber and better than that, it was headed straight for those ten that were hoping to ambush the trio from behind. Meanwhile, another thirteen were headed towards the flanks that cut directly into Morgana's path while the remainder headed on forward into the meat factory but they didn't close the distance on it with the rapidity she expected of soldiers. Instead, she noticed they waited several hundred meters away, likely waiting for the signal from their master or else waiting for the others to get into ready position at least. How she would prove them wrong indeed and boy did she take reveling in that prospect.

 

Hope you don't mind, Karter, I'd like to introduce Seth in a thread and let the audience know the threat that I aim to make Seth into even with Morgana's superior power. I'll probably have that post up tomorrow so you won't have long to wait before you see Seth finally make a proper comeback. 

 

Edited by Morgana

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Whips    3

Li meditated on the crystal in the cavern, slowly imagining it take in her hatred and bloodlust toward Morgana. Some days now, when she wasn't doing things for Kev, or slowly whittling down the credits she had robbed from those two drug pushers, she thought about all the excruciating ways she could end this woman that had waltzed into her life.

Not for the first time, she wondered if she should have refused Morgana's "generous" offer to train her...would she even be in this situation now?

The Dark Side whispered in her mind harshly, rebuking this question, pointing out that even if she had refused, this army of thugs might have still tracked her down, and without any training even as good at hiding as she was, they would have found and killed her eventually, along with Kev.

All because some jerk on Tattooine couldn't learn his lesson the first time.

Fury gripped Li as she focused on the image of the crystal in her mind. She had been meditating for three hours. Kato was perched upon a seat, watching her. "Why'd you decide to be a witch?" he asked out of idle curiosity, chin resting upon his hands.

"This galaxy baffles me. I don't understand society, don't understand it's purpose. You know, when you spend most of your life in a desert, only a few things are important: Keeping yourself fed, keeping yourself warm, and taking care of your young."

"Sounds like you lived like an animal."

For some strange reason, Li wasn't insulted by the comparison. "Perhaps. And then you get out here, and suddenly you encounter people who place importance on strange things."

"What kind of strange things?"

Li opened her eyes, putting down the crystal for a moment. 

"Ideals," she said, still perplexed at the thought people would kill for something beyond survival or rage or dominance. "People kill for abstract concepts. I don't get that. And there's this stuff called etiquette that must be observed, and people react strangely and arrest you when you start fights in the street. And people purchase things so expensive it's not worth it. And politicians...what the kriff is that all about?"

"It's really that hard for you to understand?"

"I only remark on it's strangeness because on my home world I never had need for such...pretense. On Tattooine you did what you had to in order to survive. You never have to make apologies. Kill or be killed. Everyone from the Gangsters to the slaves knows one basic truth and they don't need any other type of truth."

"What's the basic truth?" Kato asked, curiosity deepening.

"If even Tattooine could be described as a...society...then it's a closed one. And as a rather eccentric drug user I encountered once put it...'In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity'."

"Have you been stupid?"

Li paused at this. "Possibly," she admitted quietly. "I let my anger get the better of me when my home was burned down. Should have just left, done nothing. I ignored the basic truth."

"Why, if it worked so well for you before?"

Li thought a moment. "Pride," she answered finally. "Farmers are only one link above the absolute bottom of the food chain on Tattooine. Only slaves are lower. But Farmers don't get treated much better. And when you're someone like me, someone who only wanted to survive alone with the only person who gave their life any semblance of meaning, and others won't let you? It gets to you, after a while. Can't let people walk all over you forever, right?"

Kato snorted. "I doubt most of my people would agree. We're 'supposed' to be pacifists?"

"You aren't?"

Kato looked away, to the ground. "Why do you think I'm alone?"

"Ah," Li remarked, taking her crystal back into her hand.

***

She had studied the schematic extensively, but she was no mechanic, and it had taken her a while to figure out where everything was supposed to go. Kato had helped her by providing tools to help connect what needed to be connected. He'd taken some apart with a laser cutter and was able to point out the general idea of how everything was supposed to work.

Next had come the meditation on each piece, feeling the metal through the Force. Feeling it's contours, binding herself to it through anger and hate as she had done the crystal. She lifted the parts together telekinetically, having memorized where each part was supposed to go, and then fitted it together.

More meditation. Another four hours of binding the blade together at the molecular level, as the Beast had advised in the footnotes she left in the schematic. Li followed every step exactly as written. She used telekinesis to meld the circuitry and magnetic parts together for more power efficiency. 

When she was certain she had done all she could, she opened her eyes and gazed at the finished product.

It was a sleek, black hilt with silvery trim around the emitter, and a bulbous pommel. It possessed simple engravings...swirls of gold in the middle.

"Umm...Witch? What happens if you didn't put it together correctly?" Kato asked.

"It detonates like a grenade," she answered casually. "Fingers crossed..."

"Can I get behind something?" Kato asked.

"What's the matter Kato? Ain'tcha a gamblin' Lurmen?"

"Yeah, but still..."

Li chuckled. "A life without risk? Booooring..."

She pressed the activation stud.

The blood-red synth blade shot out with a deep, yet somehow utterly chilling hum. Li grinned as she held it. "Sweeeeeeeet..." she trailed.

She went back to business. "What's the best way to get inside Pendragon's home?"

"After you go through the pass between two cliffs, there are old unused aqueducts built by my people on his land. Some of those aqueducts lead right under his home...but he keeps them deliberately unsecured, precisely because he knows people will attempt to breach security through that route..."

"You mean he let's people break in?"

"Yeah. For sport. He's a witch or something like you, right? He'll probably know you're coming. Hell, he probably knows you're here," Kato answered. "But there is one route, near the back, patrolled by security. It leads into the Greenhouse of the mansion. The mansion has many more areas underground...where his sick games take place. You could say his Mansion is a big giant mask for the evil under the surface."

"It should be nighttime, I imagine," Li replied, brushing off the intense discomfort at hearing anything involving masks, given how much she wished she was wearing hers.

"Yeah, it's nighttime. I heard from my informants his party should be starting in an hour. Be careful about his enforcer."

"The pilot mentioned he had a confederate."

"A Twilek named Lash. Purple skin, white leotard, carries a lightwhip. She'll be guarding him. You want him, you'll have to get through her first. I'm sorry, but I don't know where he'll be inside, and I don't have a floor plan. I don't even know how many men he'll have guarding the inside."

"You've given me enough. He's a dead man, one way or the other."

***

Li exited out of the Lurmen's home, clad in the black armor she had found earlier, hood drawn over her head. The bow and arrow set she had acquired was slung over her shoulder along with her slugthrower. Her trench knife was strapped to her knee and her cudgel and lightsaber hung from a belt on her waste, along with an ammo pouch for her gun. She was as prepared as she was going to get. She moved quickly through the snow, the armor keeping her surprisingly warm, fitting tightly to her figure. It was almost pitch black above her, but the snow persisted, the wind starting to pick up. She needed to move now lest she freeze. She headed up the path between two rocky cliff, making note of the harsh red glow between two tall straight black lampposts, the light emitted from spherical bulbs at the top, caged by gilded iron marking the pass. 

Li passed over it, unaware of a presence masking itself on the cliffs above, aiming a sniper rifle at her. It was a Twilek woman, purple skinned, curvy, with a round face and full lips with sulphur colored eyes hiding her muscular figure underneath a heavy fur coat.

"Target is entering area. Sloppy. A beginner," Lash said, her voice silken and oily.

"Does she have a lightsaber?" asked the low, quiet voice on the other end.

"Yeah. Must have constructed it inside Kato's house...Got Dark Jedi written all over her. I don't understand why you don't kill Kato sometimes..."

"Morgana's lackey, no doubt. So, she decided to send someone finally...and as to your other question, Kato's scheming amuses me on this dreary hole of a world..."

"I got the perfect shot. One trigger pull and she's dead."

"Oh, Lash, you're far too quick to deny me entertainment..."

"Letting petty thieves sneak into your house that don't know any better is one thing. Dark Jedi are an entirely different matter."

"It wouldn't be the first time."

"If this Darksider was trained by Morgana, that means she's an assassin sent by the one person who knows you better than anyone. She would not have sent her if she didn't think she had a shot."

"You give Morgana far too much credit, Lash," the voice on the other end replied, a slight hint of enthusiasm in his tone. "I know Morgana better than Morgana knows Morgana. She's undertrained and under-prepped her student. If the Student does indeed have any genuine potential it's in spite of her 'training'. Not because of it. What of that woman you reported earlier? The one giving her that gift?"

"No sign. It looked like they knew each other. Blondie was scared out of her mind too, I could tell they weren't friends."

"Hmm...lemme know if she shows up again."

"This is a bad idea. We should pop her now, feed her corpse to the dogs."

"Let her through. You said she's a rookie."

"A rookie who came here with nothing, yet immediately loaded herself up when given the chance. She's still coming, which means she's committed and thinks she can take you."

"You will not deprive me of the chance to humiliate Morgana," the voice on the other end said tersely. "Let. Her. Through."

Lash sighed. Pendragon was difficult enough as it was to reason with when he wasn't bored. The last break ins had barely provided him any entertainment and he was looking for a cheap thrill. Besides, it was during another of his 'parties'...he wouldn't pass up a chance at showmanship.

"As you wish, Pendragon...though I must strongly caution against this. I wouldn't be doing my job otherwise."

"Of course, Lash. Report back to me. Festivities are nearly ready to begin. Double the patrol...no need to make it too easy for our would-be assassin..."

"Of course," Lash said with a smirk.

"Don't warn any of the patrol..."

Lash frowned. "You know, if you keep throwing guards lives away, nobody on this world's going to want to work for you..."

"Iotrans are a credit a dozen."

"As you so like to remind me. But the other Muun's will eventually grow suspicious..."

"They can join the Iotrans in their graves then."

Lash sighed. "As you wish..."

***

Li eventually cleared the pass and came upon the estate grounds. Her breath froze at the sight.

The Mansion was supported by a row of tall columns at the front, with a pointed arch depicting a sun with a smiling face. It rose about three stories into the air, and minaret like structures were positioned on the wide ends of Pendragon's rectangular home. Li peered closely. Guard towers. The Mansion was set at the foot of the Mountain beyond, which loomed like a terrible black spike. The estate grounds, the grass, the bushes, were set in a circular, grid-like pattern around the mansion itself with false, leafless trees made of transparisteel lined the main path to the mansion itself. Limousine speeders in various colors were parked at the front. There were the same, glowing red lampposts lining the main pathway.

Li moved silently, away from the main entrance, keeping track of the guards moving on the estate grounds. The bushes, which were tall, would provide limited cover, but would also limit her own field of vision. Plenty of opportunities for an ambush. She kept to the outer darkness, noting how Pendragon had built his mansion grounds in a natural perimeter of rock, which surrounded his home on all sides. Stone statues of various beasts and animals, some of which she had only seen in educational texts were scattered throughout the grid of bushes and grass, life sized.

She saw Iotrans in black combat armor patrolling the grounds, close to the mansion itself, though some armed with flashlights were closer to the outer edges of the giant grid. She used the statues at the outer most edge for cover, stopping when a guard got too close...she let him pass by. She could not afford to let them know she was here now, otherwise it was doubtful she would ever get in.

She moved closer, darting between statues, joining with the shadows present in the area when necessary and going absolutely still when one got too close. The flash light from another Iotran came deadly close to shining over her.

"Today," came a quiet, silken voice of a man on some hidden speaker system on the grounds. "Today is a day for celebration. A day for casting off the conventions of 'polite' society. Sooooociety. What does it even mean? Especially these days? Why do we force ourselves to adhere to these systems when we're around others? Wouldn't it be nice if we could just ignore them for once? When my father built this estate, he built a place where he could be himself. A place where he could enjoy the comforts of hard earned wealth. But my father, he had no love for jewels or fine clothes. He had taste, but he never put taste above his own identity, never let the perceptions of others dictate his preferences. No, my father built this place to show off his ideal world...a world much different from the world around us, this frigid place of ice and snow. Of rich people," said the man, who Li figured to be Pendragon by this point. There was a hint of disgust in his voice as he said the final two words. Why was he addressing the outside?

"Rich people often don't know what to do with themselves. Some, they put their money in the stock market, some to charity...I know, what a waste of time, right?" Pendragon asked with a bemused tone. "Still others spend their money on showing off. Not me. No, when my father passed, right before he died, he said to be true to myself whenever I could. So I took his mansion, and his wealth...his fabulous wealth...and I created a world I could be comfortable in. A world I hope tonight that you can be comfortable in as well, my guests. Come inside if you haven't already...I've prepared a...thorough evening of particular delights..."

Li, hiding behind a statue again by this point heard a guard start swearing. "Kriffing psychopath," the Iotran grumbled. "I hate it when he throws these parties...Always gotta use a disruptor on the bodies afterward to get rid of the stink...what the hell does he need with a pool of boiling animal feces anyway...?"

Li raised an eyebrow, but continued making her way through the mansion grounds, closer to the Mansion itself, moving only when she was absolutely certain a guard would be looking the other way. She surveyed the terrain ahead. Bare grass, no bushes.

She got on all fours and crawled close to the shadows...right as the guard tower spotlight was activated. She froze a few feet from the radius of the bright light itself, watching as it slowly went past her.

The guard in the tower might have access codes, frequencies, maybe even keycards...she needed to get inside it before she could even think of getting into the mansion.

Luckily she had brought along just the right tool...

When the spot light swept again over the area ahead, she broke into a sprint, barely clearing the radius as it swept the area. 

She got to the side of the guard tower, examining the door. It was locked from the inside. No matter. She headed to the side, out of the line of sight, and took her lightsaber from her belt, activating it into the side, enjoying the feeling of power from just holding the deadly sword of energy, feeling her hate coursing through the plasma somehow.

She cut a circle into thick walls, deactivated the blade, lifting the sectioned off piece with telekinesis, straining as she had never lifted something that heavy before with her mind and shoved it through and found herself in a stairwell. The inside was lit by a globe of glass emitting a soft aura of gold as she crept up the steps silently, removing her cudgel from her belt as she soon reached the top, keeping alert as she spotted an Iotran working at a steel desk, working the spot light from a camera and remote control. His head was uncovered.

Li brought the cudgel down violently, hearing a sickening crack that sent a shiver of pleasure up her spine. She was enjoying herself. 

She searched the corpse. Just as she thought, she found a keycard. She set the spotlight to the auto sweep command she saw on screen. It  would maybe buy her some time. She checked the keycard. It was labeled for the mansion lobby and security barracks. Li decided to search the data pads he had been browsing when she spotted her.

There were a few codes mentioned, one of them being the security code to a laser grid inside, though it didn't say where precisely. It also made mention of Pendragon overseeing festivities from something called "The Funhouse".

Li frowned. Still so much she didn't know. Morgana had been a fool to send her in blind like this, just to fetch his damn secrets. Li began making her way back down the steps and to the hole she had made, heading back out to make her way to the green house. Kato had said guards were patrolling the back...maybe they had the key to that back entrance.

***
Kev frowned as Morgana explained her plan. There were very few places left to run in this colony and the one's she was telling him to run to were places even his mother wouldn't use unless in pure desperation.

The Mute frowned, not liking the idea of splitting up from Kev, but even he couldn't deny Morgana had a point. The ship that was next to the factory might give an advantage, but he wasn't sure how useful it would be against professionally armed mercs.

Regardless, he wasn't running like a coward. He was going to find a way to help Kev survive, just like he and Li had agreed, separately from Morgana's suggestion.

The boy and the silent Adept headed back to the office to study the network on the computer. Kev's hands shook in fear as he read the route, telling the Mute the best route to make to the factory's docking bay.

The Mute saw the boy afraid, grasped him by the shoulder, patted him on the head to comfort him, even as part of him knew Morgana's teachings would eventually tear him and his mother apart. But he had problems of his own. Men who needed to die for their crimes, regardless of the Jedi Order's views on taking vengeance.

As Kev nodded in agreement, they all heard the mercs breach with an explosive through the doors, filing in with weapons pointed ahead of them, carrying torches.

Morgana went to draw their fire and the Mute spotted a purple glow from a lightsaber in the distance. Someone was attacking them from behind, and as the mercs shouted in confusion, yelling for some to cover the entrance they had gone through and hit the "demon" with suppressing fire, others tried to make their way through the facility past the racks for hanging skinned cattle. trying to cover back entrances. 

Kev signal led he'd memorized the route and the Mute fried the terminal with his lightsaber. "Morgana is...sneaky..." he admitted. "Keep you eye on her...a con artist is a con artist to the day they die."

The Mute nodded in agreement. The boy was smarter than he had given him credit for, his soft brown eyes betraying a quiet intelligence when under stress.

"MORGANA!" on of the mercs, a Zabrak screamed. "GIVE IT UP! YOU GOT NOWHERE TO GO! YOU THINK ME AND THE OTHERS WON'T LEVEL THIS PLACE?! WE'RE GONNA SCALP YOUR SORRY ASS WHEN WE CATCH YOU! THERE'S NOWHERE YOU CAN RUN ON THIS SORRY EXCUSE FOR A PLANET WE WON'T FOLLOW!" 

As Morgana engaged them and more of the mercs spotted her and opened fire, the Mute grabbed the boy, sticking to the darkness as he made his way down to the floor while they were all distracted. He spotted the emergency tunnel hatch in the floor and quickly tipped the switch on the ground, installed in a small recess in the cement to open it, which it did with a slight hiss, the fire from slugthrowers drowning out anything they did as the Mute helped the boy into the tunnel, nodding to Kev for good luck as he went to sneak up on the mercs from the right.

The green blade that emitted from his cane sliced through the first three mercs, then he tore through another two, never staying still so their slugthrowers could be trained on him. The others covering the entrance opened fire but the other force user heading their direction kept most of them occupied as the Mute kept moving with his unmerciful application of Form One. He had soon killed most in the immediate area, only to be opened fire on from above as mercs blasted through the ceiling with submachine guns. This time there was no thought of standing and fighting. He had done all he could to help Morgana up to this point, now he had to stick to the plan and make for a ship.

The Mute ran from the bullets, force-pushing open the doors to the docking bay, a small white hanger facility that helped transport meat to markets across Castell and finding a small shuttle armed with a blaster cannon. He opened it with a pass card he found earlier and headed inside. The thing was barely armored, more for stopping attempted thefts then repelling full on assaults but he had no choice. He fired up the vessel, even as he heard bullet impacts outside. 

The blaster cannon on the shuttle blew open the docking bay doors and the Mute throttled forward, knowing the criminals hunting them all would follow.




Telekinesis x3 to construct the lightsaber and meld it's circuitry properly. As meditation occurred during construction her force pool was built up again, leaving it subtracted from twenty five. 22 uses left, pushing for blunt weapon basic


Edited by Whips

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        Seth had been enjoying himself in the bar of Castell when he finally received a message through telepathy, calling him to action from Morgana. At once, he paid the tab off with credits Morgana provided him then rushed off to meet the forces attacking his mistress, figuring out that the mercs had terrorized the town were attacking Morgana and her little "apprentice". So he headed in the direction he had last seen the mercs and when he did, he noticed that ten were flanking from the left at the meat factory, the place he presumed Morgana had been trapped in. Even so, there were ten near him but rather than immediately descend for them as he might have done when he worked with Hyperion, he looked to three whose grenades were visible even in the dark of the night. He reached out with the Force and triggered these three grenades quickly, the explosions killing those three with two being caught in the blast and burning alive before his very eyes as he used a clothes line (his lightsaber being the hook that carried him down), he zipped across under the cover of darkness and when he saw an opportunity to do so, he pounced and waited until the very last moment to ignite his lightsaber and slice a man in two from a building that was three floors tall.

 

          He then deactivated his lightsaber and used a Force Dash to avoid being spotted by the lights of the mercs who were helpless in the darkness as he hid behind corners as best he could. The Weequay activated one more detonator and killed another man, having recognized the slugthrowers for what they were the moment they landed. He'd seen a couple when he was attacked by that Hutt schutta Kublai that he had interrogated in his initial search for Hyperion, so long before, but never forgetting what they looked like in case he had to face them again. Using Force Dash again to keep himself in the darkness, he cut one more man in two by swinging the blade up his groin and out his head before slicing off the top of another man's head and using Saber Throw to deal with the last one before he could even fire. The throw cut the poor bastard into three pieces and Seth deactivated his blade before using the darkness to his advantage, relying only on their lights and the sounds of battle in order to hunt them down.

 

           The Weequay killer circled around to place himself behind the main force attacking the base and fortunately for him, they all had their backs turned to him or at least couldn't see him. So he reached out with telekinesis towards grenades on the men with rocket launchers and detonated all eight of them with the Force. When they exploded, he managed to take another four with him but because he knew the remainder still possessed slugthrowers, he didn't want to be around when they realized there was an unanticipated additional player that Morgana had called upon in order to help them out of their predicament. Near one of the explosions he set off was a comlink to the leader of the entire operation and he picked it up by scooping his hand under the dirt before listening on what it said.

 

             "Hey! What's going on there, what's with thermals going off and killing people! I want that Morgana dead and there are already only eight of you without even wounding any of the schutta in there!?" said the man he presumed to be their boss.

 

             "The body count is actually higher than that, your ten men trying to flank her on the left wing are dead too. You're going to need a bigger army than you've got in order to stop me. This much I can promise you," Seth told him.

 

             "Who... who the hell is this?" said the leader.

 

             "A demon of the lady Morgana but you can also call me your worst kriffing nightmare!" Seth replied before throwing away the comlink. The three men who remained looked at each other puzzled about what to do next, having lost all of their comrades, including five that had been killed by the Mute before Seth's arrival. Now that the boss man knew he was there, there would be no shortage of reprisals to be expected from the leader if he still had anyone left after all this slaughter.

 

Telekinesis x2, Force Dash x2, Saber Throw x1. 5 uses remaining Resolve II

Edited by Seth al Ugolio

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Morgana    0

         While Seth was dealing with the bulk of the enemy force whilst they were still surprised by his arrival, Morgana was dealing with ten more of her own people, seeing a wonderful opportunity to do away with two at once before fleeing into the darkness. Using Force Speed, she dealt with two more in a flurry with lightsaber activity, figuring out that the six others remaining would spread out and try to ensnare her with a circle but without knowledge of where she was in the darkness, they wouldn't know if they were in walking into a trap or not. She dealt with one weak link and figuring she could outsmart the rest with a couple more instances of Force Speed, knowing her lightsabers couldn't deflect their shots but also know that could work to her advantage. The sorceress waited until four were close and when she did, she sped past them with Force-imbued speed and briefly twirled one lightsaber as she ran past four before ducking out of the way to avoid being hit which resulted in all four killing each other.

 

           The one man remaining knew better than to believe that he was alone and knew better than to believe that Morgana wouldn't kill him if she could get a hold of him. Nonetheless, she stalked him like a predator in the night, being careful not to alert him immediately to what had happened. However, it didn't take him long to realize that he was outmatched in the darkness of the night and when he felt the searing hot burning of the lightsaber impaled him, he accepted it more gracefully than most of Morgana's victories and he was indeed the least satisfying kill she had ever made. Seth had been brutish in his entry which was good enough for her when she saw that there were three more worth getting rid of, a job easily done with a couple dashes of Force Speed but she had a strong feeling that the leader of the mercenary squadron attacking them wasn't alone.

 

            If she were he, she'd have a backup contingency against failed slugthrower sharpshooters like bodyguards who could wield electrostaffs and/or vibroblades, the kinds of people who had killed Jedi and Sith alike before. Hell, she wouldn't have been surprised if she could have spotted a few Mandalorians on his side especially ones who had abandoned their tribes to search for the most skill warriors in the galaxy perhaps forming their own tribe in the process. As she thought about it, she wondered if this whole thing was a scheme of Pendragon to try and lure her out, knowing she would have probably sent someone to kill him by now even if he had no way of knowing that it was Whips just yet. It sounded like something he'd do, if anonymously, in a bid to undermine the apprenticeship or give Li an unfair edge over Morgana that she had not previously possessed. It was a good trick, regardless of who was behind it but it would fail like all the other tricks that had been thrown against Morgana and her former Master who had rightly cast out Pendragon for his indulgence in the excess of life.

 

            She briefly saw Seth or a shape she suspected to be Seth in the night and she called out to him with telepathy. Scout ahead, see what you can do about reducing the numbers to the leader but do not destroy him. I want to see that man die myself she told him. Nodding, he decided to do just as he asked but in a fashion she didn't expect: rather than head for the exact coordinates where he might have seen the leader and his remaining caravan of probably ten to fifteen elite bodyguards, he took a side route that allowed him a view without being immediately detected. She had to admit she was decently impressed by his cunning in this aspect and she hoped that he could actually aid him in this regard of reducing the merc leader's forces but not destroying him outright as she would have expected. The witch simply hoped that by this time, Kev got himself as far away from the chaos and into a place where even Morgana and Seth wouldn't think to look if they were to try and track him down again.

 

 

One meditation before the thread. Force Speed x4, 21 uses remaining. Resolve III

Edited by Morgana

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Whips    3

Li snuck through the rocky pathway leading to the greenhouse in the back of the estate, and it wasn't long before she spotted another guard doing his rounds by a locked gate that led to the back. There was a flashlight on the rifle he was carrying.

Li had to move quickly. She still had her cudgel in hand as she approached, ducking behind a tree planted in the pathway on the side as the light came her way. It came closer and she tensed, waiting for it to pass by her. The Iotran walked by the tree and the cudgel slammed into the side of his head, and he fell forward, Li catching his blaster rifle, having seized his fingers as the cudgel had made contact so he wouldn't squeeze the trigger reflexively. She dragged the body behind the tree, stripped him of his blaster clips, and his key card, which was labeled for the Green house area, the yard outside and maintenance shed inside. The security guys were smart. They compartmentalized so no one card could get you into more than the area they were meant to be relevant to.

Li went over to the gate and used the keycard to open it quietly shutting it after swiping the card over the reader next to it.

She headed down the rest of a graveled path, bushes on her side, more of those red lampposts guiding her way. She saw two guards armed with flashlight heading her way.

"How is wealth--fortune--measured?" Pendragon's voice over the loud speakers asked suddenly, startling her. "Is it the size of one's house? The number of outfits in one's wardrobe? The number of vehicles in one's garage? The amount of food in one's storage unit? No, no, no, and no," he asserted. "Though my Muun...'brethren'...would disagree surely. Real wealth...real success...I long ago learned when I was...away to study...to learn...things...that true fortune requires different merits of measurement. Namely, the first measurement, is how jealous you can make others...how much you can get away with through sheer shameless audacity...the level to which you are both able and willing to impose yourself upon others and inconvenience them and get away with it, without ever having to make amends or redress...that, my friends...that is true wealth...if you can do that, the speeders, the food, the homes, the whores...those will all fall into place in time, like they did with me. If only a very specific rival of mine had remembered this rule, she might not be quite so wanting in her goals...I can't begin to tell you the number of times she was humiliated...first by her parents, then by her instructor and finally by a deranged psychopath that caused her sister to jump off a gorram building...and that isn't even counting all the times I got to humiliate her. Oh, she hated me so! It was adorable actually...when she wasn't proudly and loudly proclaiming her background and using her sob story like the attention whore she was..."

Li snickered slightly as she heard all this while making her way up the steps to a transparisteel section of the mansion shaped like a bubble. She couldn't see too well as to what was inside. She swiped the reader with her keycard and an automatic door slid open quietly with a hiss. She was inside. Now to find Morgana's little prize, off Pendragon somehow and escape, in that order.

Li gasped. The greenhouse was lined with exotic looking plants she had never seen before, arranged on pedestals and with custom fountains that were silent at the moment, polygon shaped and in various sizes with a faceted look to them. The plants rested on stone nests that spiraled up to the top of the greenhouse, supported by metal lining the transparisteel structure.

Pendragon in the meantime, continued speaking, this time over a house P.A. System.

"Some, upon witnessing the delights I and my associates engage in while throwing these little shindigs say I am an evil man. Obviously, I disagree, but not for the reasons some would suspect. It is not because I think everyone would act the way I do if given the chance...why, if the other Muun's knew what goes on here they'd have me killed for making the race look bad. No, the reason I say I'm not an evil man is because I think evil is merely a perception, a meme enforced by others. If I don't view myself as evil, merely a man not constrained by frustratingly dull society and simply exploring sensation to it's maximum...why...I'm perfectly innocent..."

Li, for reasons she didn't quite understand, found his rhetoric seductive, even though she knew it was ultimately self serving. Li never bothered with excuses, herself. She made her way through the rows of strange plants and finally, after a few twists and turns, found the exit, swiping the reader next to the door...

...and was greeted by a few dozen Iotran guards pointing blaster rifles at her. The lights came on and Li heard a snap hiss behind her as a purple skinned Twilek woman wearing a white Leotard and durasteel high heels with a noticeably muscular frame came out from behind, her lightwhip dragging it's blade on the ground behind her.

"Welcome," she said with a silken tone and a smirk. "Welcome to Pendragon's home, Dark Jedi."

Li's lightsaber was out instantly, but a flick of Lash's weapon ensnared her blade and ripped it from her hands into Lash's waiting palm.

"You're just in time for the festivities," Lash said with a wicked laugh, giving a hand signal to one Iotran, who fired a stun bolt at Li, knocking her out cold.

"Prepare her for entry into the Stronghold, but bring her to Pendragon's chambers first. He wanted to speak to her personally," Lash ordered the Iotrans.

***

Li was splashed awake by a bucket of water. She looked around, tried to move and realized she was trapped in a seat with built in restraints in some sort of lavish bedchamber colored in scarlet and with gold sheets on the bed, which was circular. There was an oil portrait of Morgana cradling a bloodied woman with clearly broken bones, whom Li guessed to be Patricia. Morgana clearly looked pained and whoever had created the oil painting had gone to great pains to imagine the would be Sith's suffering, which made Li smile in malicious amusement. She found herself wishing Morgana had another sister, so she could kill her right in front of her teacher, though such an act would almost certainly mean her death.

"Do you like it?" called out Pendragon's voice.

"Morgana's nose is a little big but otherwise...spot on..."

"I knew you served Morgana," his voice called out. Li craned her head and saw Lash next to her holding a bucket. She saw an area in the chamber concealed by a crimson sheer. She could barely make out a tall figure in a taller chair.

"This one is hardly worth killing, Pendragon," Lash opined. "She barely knows how to work a lightsaber..."

"You shouldn't always judge a Darksider by their ability to work a blade, Lash...especially considering how your own weapon is hardly without weakness..." Pendragon replied. "Some...have other talents."

"So tell me, Penny, what kind of a name is Pendragon anyway?" Li snarked. "I know of Krayt Dragons...never heard of no Pen Dragon."

"My father's legacy," Pendragon answered. "Our original name was boring, so he changed it. Got it from a book, some story about a peasant pulling a songsteel sword from a stone..."

"Oh, no, tell me you're one of those pretentious artsy types that go by only one name, Penny... Li grumbled, only to be punched in the face by Lash. Li split some blood out.

"You'll have to pardon Lash, she has a thinner skin than I do...it serves her well, but can be irksome at times, especially when I'm trying to have a conversation," Pendragon said from behind the veil, his features still obscured.

"You should take that as a hint, headtails," Li snarked at Lash, who punched her again. "I don't like this, Pendragon," Lash snarled. "I was always taught to immediately kill the one's who aren't scared..."

"You should be scared," was all Li said.

"Feisty little one," Pendragon chuckled. "Amusing...I always get so annoyed by the one's who start immediately blubbering in fear."

"Morgana was kinda glib about you...do you deliberately do this to everyone you catch, try and act all mysterious and shavit when you're just a spoiled little rich schutta with way too much time and money? You'd think you'd do something constructive, Penny,

Li turned to Lash. "So, are you and him having sex, or something?"

Lash snarled and gave her another blow to the jaw. Li chuckled again.

"You like pain, schutta?!" Lash snapped.

"What's the matter, don't you?" Li asked. "Got a few ways to draw some screams from you if you're game..." she added suggestively, though in truth she was just trying to screw with the Twilek's head.

"She'll do splendidly in The Stronghold," Pendragon said. "Has everything been prepped? My guests grow impatient in the Sun Room."

"The Stronghold is ready, Pendragon. I doubt she'll last long," Lash said in derision. 

"What's this about a Stronghold?" Li asked.

"Tell me, Darksider, would you like to walk away from all this alive?"

"What are you talking about? I 'am' going to walk away from this."

"I like your confidence. Let's see if it's well placed," Pendragon said.

"For the record, Penny, you're going to die screaming along with your...girlfriend? I'm sorry, I'm not clear exactly what's going on between you two. Why...why is she wearing that white leotard?" Li asked, looking Lash up and down. "I'll admit, she's got the body for it, but the high heels...not a good combo. It makes you look...easy..."

"Let me kill her, Pendragon. Pretty please?" Lash growled.

"I admit, your thighs are superb though...you do leg lifts a lot? Does Penny help?" Li asked in a mockingly sweet tone.

"Motherkriffer--" Lash snarled, going for her lightwhip...

"Lash..." Pendragon said calmly, but there was an unmistakeable undercurrent of warning in the way he said her name.

Lash's grimace only grew when Li made a whip cracking sound with her mouth. "That's right, Penny, keep your dog on a leash when she's in heat," Li snarked. "Do you spank her?"

"We're getting off track," Pendragon said quickly, knowing it was taking Lash all she had to keep from killing the arrogant Dark Jedi on the spot. "The Stronghold will kill her if she's weak."

"Did you make purple slut here run the gauntlet before you let her...work for you?" Li asked, her voice dripping with insinuation.

"SCHUTTA!" Lash shrieked, punching her in the face. Li laughed.

"Enough, Lash," Pendragon said with naked command.

"So what's this 'Stronghold'?" Li asked. "Is it where headtails here got her leotard?" Lash glared at her when she said this.

"The Stronghold is an artificial environment that mimics elements of ancient cities and castles. I spent years putting it together," Pendragon explained. "The Premise is simple enough...I dump people like you who breach my home inside and me and my guests watch you die horribly. "In all the years I've run it, no one has ever escaped. I'm a sport though...no advanced weapons or scanners are giving to the guards to hunt you, just their senses and thoroughbred Kath Hounds. Nothing but ancient weapons, the bow, the sword, the mace--"

"You, sir, are kinky," Li said with a grin.

"However, I have given the bowmen some stealth field equipment...no need to make it completely even."

"And what if I manage to make it through all this?" Li asked.

"You go free of course. The exit is at the far end of the stronghold. But no one has ever escaped. No one."

"Probably because you cheat. You know, you disappoint me," Li snickered. "I come here expecting some wicked sorcerer in a sinister mountain retreat. Well, you got the mountain retreat down, but as for you? All I see is a spoiled little rich boy who doesn't know what to do with himself, hiding in his own little world because he doesn't know how to function out side it. Maybe Morgana didn't want to deal with you because you ain't worth facing in person, Penny..."

Li felt her throat constrict suddenly. She couldn't breath and her vision went red around the edges.

"I am more than a match for Brillante. I am her superior," Pendragon stated, a hint of genuine anger entering his voice for the first time. He let go and Li gasped in sweet air. "You're Morgana's type of student...ignorant and feral and easily manipulated to her limited whims. I see why she chose you..."

"Do you ever do anything useful with your wealth?" Li asked, undeterred. "I can think of literally a thousand things more useful to do with my money than investing in this stuff. Worse, you're too impersonal...I do my dirt up close..." Li said, looking right at a furious Lash as she said it. "More fun that way. You ever take your time with that whip? I have with mine. Adrenaline rush like you wouldn't believe..."

"Pendragon, let's just kill her right now. I got a bad feeling about this. She isn't like the others..."

Lash was given pause as Li flicked her tongue at the Twilek.

"We are killing her, my dear," Pendragon said. "Well, it would have been nice to have a productive chat, but as is so typical of Morgana she chose an uneducated hooligan."

"What the kriff is a hooligan? Does everybody on this stupid ice world use fancy words?" Li asked. "Here, I got a fancy word: cacophony. Used in a sentence? I'm gonna cause such a cacophony in this schutta you're gonna have to deal with me personally, after I take my time with your slut here," Li said, who was punched in the face yet again by Lash. Li spit out more blood. 

"Charming," Pendragon muttered. "I suppose I should have you marched to the Stronghold before Lash gets any more blood on my carpet. Off with her."

A panel opened up from the wall behind Li, and two halves of a capsule were rolled onto a track system under Li's feet, closing around her chair and sealing.

"This is some spy movie shavit, I love this! Great idea, Penny!" Li called out from the darkness of her capsule as her capsule lowered through the floor.

Lash turned to Pendragon. "Orders?"

"Leave the cudgel we found on her at the starting point...I do not wish her completely unarmed. It's not sporting. And prepare for my entry in the Sun Room."

"As you wish...though I strongly protest this course of action. She's different...can't you feel it?"

"I admit...it's not like Morgana to pick someone with such an openly hostile nature...I'm not all that certain Morgana realized what she was training until she was committed," Pendragon confessed. "But regardless, she won't make it to the exit. No one ever does, and even if they did, they'd be immediately killed by my guards."

Lash smiled. "You always think ahead, Boss."

"Thank you, Lash."

***

The Sun room was a gigantic, circular golden chamber, lined in gold filigree, and the main light came from a gigantic globe of a sun with a cheerful though somewhat rustic smile, done in the old Pius Dea era style of faceted polygonal crystal that gently turned in place, showering golden light on the inhabitants of the chamber, who reclined upon gigantic cushions. Most of them, women or men, human or alien, were clad in sheer silk, human and Twilek slaves feeding them grapes.

One of the guests, a male Togrutan, held up goblet of wine, clearly sloshed. "Pendragon, old chum, where are you? When's this game of yours start?"

"Oh be patient, Huru, you know how Pendragon like's his entrances," said a Rodian woman.

"I just hope it's not like last year. One can watch only so many young men be boiled in feces before the rush wears off. The novelty of it wore off after the third one, to be truthful. It was VERY amusing the first time though..."

"It was most stimulating when he opened that pregnant Lurmen up though..." said a female Rodian, downing another goblet of wine a slave poured.

The large Turbolift doors opened at the end of the chamber and out stepped Lash, her durasteel heels clicking on golden marble.

"Ladies, Gentlemen, I present to you...Pendragon!" she said, giving an introductory wave to the veiled chair carried by weak humans with obvious leprosy sores. They carried it on their shoulders, as it was mounted to special bar rests, which they set down with great effort, all groaning in pain. They waited, and Lash cackled as her lightwhip came out, slicing through their diseased flesh and killing the screaming, cowering slaves where they stood., to the roaring applause of half naked guests.

"Finally, some action!" Huru exclaimed enthusiastically.

"The best is yet to come..." Pendragon trailed, coming out from behind the veil of his special chair at last...

He was tall, like most Muun's with a sickly, greasy sheen of sweat and pungent oil across his whole body, clad in only a metal speedo. His brow possessed patterned knife scars, rings piercing his lips and the flesh underneath his nipples. Images of leprosy sores and needles were tattooed across his chest and when he smiled, there were a few teeth missing on the bottom row, having been knocked out by his Sith Master out of sheer disgust and horror at the abyss that was his depravity upon discovering it. Pendragon had barely escaped with his life that day. His neck still bore the scars from when the old Bith had tried to open his trachea. His fingernails were overly long and painted strawberry pink. At the center of his sternum was an image of a Sun, smiling.

"My friends," he said warmly, gesturing his arms as though he were embracing all of them. "Welcome once again to my true face."

The walls around them, in actuality high definition viewing screens, flickered from their default color, showing a capsule being lowered from a transparisteel tube system and setting down on a target painted on the ground in an artificial alleyway.

"This year, I have some entertainment different from the usual thieves and killers I've dumped into the Stronghold in the past. I have found for your amusement a Dark Jedi."

The Guests perked up at this. One Rodian just poured wine on his chest and moaned suggestively. Pendragon stared at this.

"Well, at least we're all in a good mood," he joked, gritting his teeth as a  female, brown haired and pale skinned slave poured a drop of hot candle wax on his feet. "Yeah...keep doing that...you stop I'll kill you..."

"Pendragon is definitely in a good mood...he usually doesn't start with the candle wax..." a gray haired male Bothan noted. "I take it the strangulation will take place shortly?"

"Patience, Volso, Patience. Coruscant wasn't built in a day. Besides this is a special occasion. This fool is a student of my oldest rival, Morgana," Pendragon explained. "As you know, Morgana was the primary reason my Master refused to continue my training as a Sith. She discovered my...heh heh...proclivities. No one was more surprised than my master when he discovered he could still be repulsed by another's acts. It's my belief that when he discovered what I did for kicks it actually caused him to rethink his entire life for the briefest of moments...which probably contributed to the beating I received..." the Muun chuckled. "Maybe that's part of the reason Morgana hates me so...maybe she doubted just a little herself..."

"Tell me you're going to release the cannibals, Pendragon," Huru called out. "It was so funny last year, watching all the men you stationed down there die..."

"My dear Huru, I'm gonna release every kriffing cannibal I have in stock...when the time is right..." Pendragon laughed playfully. "Now WHERE! IS! MY! COMLINK!" he shouted suddenly, ending the shriek with a girlish laugh. Lash handed him on and he stiffened, eyes rolling in his head as a slave poured more hot candle wax on his feet.

"Testing...testing..." he called out, eyes still rolling upward in his head. "Darksider? Can you hear me?"

On the screens in the Sun Room, the capsule holding Li popped open by remote. The restraints on the chair released and she was out.

"If you look on the ground, you'll find that my men have deposited your cudgel for you. Your other weapons are down there of course, but it's up to you to discover their location. Except for your lightsaber of course, which remains with my lovely assistant, Lash...can't let it be too easy for you now can we?" he asked, bemused by his query.

"You should be seeing a great tower of stone and brick about four blocks away, with a great golden sphere atop it connected to the stone cavern above. That is where I am currently. If you can make it to   the top of my tower, I'll let you go free. You can go crawling back to your master. Perhaps she'll kill you for your failure. Funny thing is I'm not even sure what you were here for originally, but at this point...who cares?! Let's go insane!" he cackled. "The only thing standing between you are approximately a hundred and fifty guards, Kath Hounds and...other surprises..." he laughed. "Try not to die too quickly...now if you don't mind, me and the others have to start the festivities...Ta!"

Pendragon turned to his other guests. The light from the globe above dimmed.

"We all know this next bit..." Pendragon announced. "Everyone except the slave's of course..."

One of the slaves noticed the guests palming daggers. The slaves started to back away...

"The festivities commence...NOW!" Pendragon shouted.

The guests leapt up, some with knives, others with machetes, and immediately begin to murder the screaming slaves. Pendragon smiled as some of the blood splashed across his face and he looked down and saw the slave beneath him trembling as she poured more wax on his feet.

"Oh no...you're fine, trust me," Pendragon assured her. "Just as long you don't. Stop. Pouring."

The slave trembled but nodded her head and continued dripping hot wax on his feet, drop by drop.

"Not so fast. You gotta go one, precisely one, drop at a time. Two or more irritates me. Remember! Violent death!" he assured her as more blood from a murdered slave splashed his face.

***

Castell...

The Smoker, the man who'd been hunting Li and now Morgana since this whole thing had started, snarled as the weequay threatened him over the Comlink. He was high up in his assault shuttle, where Morgana could not reach him. There were now reports of a shuttle engaging what was left of his men on the perimeter. 

"How many we got left?" the Smoker asked, his cigar smoke graying the air."

"About forty, on call," the Pilot answered. "Boss, you'll be lucky if YOUR Boss doesn't have your head..."

"You just concentrate on flying," the Smoker snarled. "We got that detachment chasing Li to Mygeeto? Like I ordered?"

"Yes sir. Shouldn't be long before they arrive...wait, hold on, getting a frequency alert..." the  male human pilot trailed, appearance concealed by a full flight suit and helmet.

The pilot turned to him. "It's Mr. Prosper...he wants to talk to you..."

The Smoker paled but took out his comlink. "Patch me through..." he said hoarsely.

The Pilot nodded.

"Mr. Prosper?" the Smoker called out.

"Why is Li Whitewolf and her son not in my custody?" an icy, rough voice of a man asked on the other end.

"We've run into unexpected difficulties," the Smoker admitted. "She has Force Sensitives helping her. They've killed many of my men--"

"You were warned of Morgana."

"It's not just Morgana...there are two others we didn't know about...blind guy with a saber in his cane and...my guys tell me there's a weequay."

"Failure against one Force User would have been unacceptable...but even you couldn't have prepared for three..." Mr. Prosper said. "But I think ahead as well...that is why I sent reinforcements behind you."

The Smoker paused. "We're getting reinforcements?"

"A mercenary outfit...the Devils of Mustafar."

The Smoker went white. "You sent the Devils?"

"Yes..." Mr. Prosper answered. "Pull your men back, Johann. The Devils are already filing in...with more specialized training. And weapons..."

***

As Kev ran through the cramped tunnel, he occasionally caught glimpses of the streets above to to exposed grating.

He stopped when he heard a sound above them, like thunder.

He dared to peak through a grate.

They came out of the mist of the night. They were all clad, men and women, in bright red armor. Their faces were covered by helmets stylized to look like grinning demons, with their tongues hanging out They were equipped with weapons Kev had only seen once before on Tattooine...Charrics.

There were dozens of them. Some looked like their armor were equipped with combat exoskeletons.

As the Devils of Mustafar ran to secure the perimeter around the Meat Factory, they all activated cloaking fields...

Kev had no choice...he had to keep running. He broke into a sprint.

***

"Secure the perimeter," the Head Devil ordered in a synthesizer-disguised voice through an encrypted comlink in a soundproofed helmet. "And shoot down that shuttle attacking Mr. Prosper's men."

One of the Devils nodded, taking out a rocket launcher and getting into position on the second floor of an apartment complex that had been abandoned when the shooting had started, right where the shuttle had been reported.

"Estimate of time before Authorities interfere?" The Commander asked.

"They're too scared to even go near what's happening. Colonial police from Czerka ain't equipped for this. They're gonna have to get military here to flush us out. That will take them about an hour," the Devil next to the Commander said on the cobblestone street. "Their comms will be jammed soon."

"Prepare to strike on my command. Hit fast and hit hard. No more softball stuff. Use Flame Projectors at close range. They won't be able to deflect your charrics...the impact will threaten to knock the lightsaber out of their hand. Gunship ready?"

"Gunship ready, sir," the Devil replied. "Seventy caliber fragmentation rounds, as you requested."

"Good. Morgana may have defeated simple mercenaries but the Devils of Mustafar will be her end," the Commander said with a clenched fist. "Start your attacks."

A rocket shot out from the apartment complex, hitting the engine of the shuttle the Mute was piloting, which was sent crashing into the street. The Mute was dazed as he struggled to escape the wreckage, bleeding and injured...the plan had gone pear shaped.

He heard the Gunship before he saw it with his Force Sight.

It was blaring opera music on some speaker, more Devils leaning out it's side with a heavy machine gun.

The Devils outside the Factory's main entrance tossed in smoke and flash bang grenades, opening fire on anyone they spotted moving with automatic scatterguns, even as the gunship opened fire on the factory, shattering it's walls.

"DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" the pilot on the gunship screamed.

The Mute sprinted into an alleyway, trying to sense out the boy. He was too far away...he had to help Morgana somehow!

The buckshot barely missed his face. He broke into a run, barely staying ahead of the squad of Devils sent after him. He kicked down a door into another building...he didn't know where to run at this point, he just needed to get out of their line of fire. He sprinted up the stairs and the devils followed.

He had to find someway to shake these guys... He could hear them coming after him up the flight of stairs, firing scatterguns at him. He barely stayed out of the way, and surviving not one but two shuttle crashes had taken the wind out of him.

He had no choice...they'd run him down like this. He had to attack.

With a yell he Force jumped towards them from on high, tackling them on the flight below even as small pellets of buckshot got him in the leg and arms. The Adrenaline numbed that for the most part as his green blade came out, stabbing one in the groin and using him as a human shield to absorb gunfire as he pulled out the pistol on his now dead Hostage and opened fire point blank at the two in front of them, hitting them in their unarmored throats and dropping them.

A garrote slipped around his neck from behind. The remaining Devil.

He struggled, choking, vision going black as he was forced to drop his cane. He still had the pistol though, so he fired behind him, hitting the Devil in the foot. The armored mercenary screamed letting go as the Mute tackled him with a yell, firing into his foe's armpit and penetrating the flight suit, killing him.

The Mute collapsed from exhaustion, to tired to even shuffle uselessly before forcing himself back up. He needed to distract as many of these devil masked freaks as possible. He ran up the steps, knowing he needed to get that gunships attention first before it obliterated Morgana and whoever she had called to her head.

He soon reached the rooftop, still clutching his pistol as the Gunship fired on the meat factory's walls. Fires had broken out throughout the building and if he wasn't so intent on keeping his word he would have written Morgana off for dead by this point. But he was in range, and if there was even the slightest chance she was still alive AND he could give her the opening needed to take that damn thing out he had to try.

The Mute gave a war cry, opening fire on the gunship, peppering the Cockpit with weak, ineffectual bolts.

The Gunship turned it's attention to him and he gulped, running as the gunship opened fire on his position. He barely got back inside, hitting the floor and crawling to the stairs as gunfire tore through the area above him as he barely reached the stairs...

Edited by Whips

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Morgana    0

          Morgana noticed that the Mute had taken the focus of the Gunship and realized that the Jedi had the ship preoccupied. There is a way I can use this conflict to my advantage, the Mute has the attention of the gunship and is in a better position to take it down than I would be, however I can also escape and let it destroy him. Thereby, saving myself and eliminating a potential roadblock in Li's apprenticeship before he even has a chance to interfere but if he survives then he will be suspicious of where the hell I was even with this new troupe of killers in the way. Hm... suppose I somehow got the Mute into the gunship and had him turn that on the mercenaries rather than flee from the fight and assume he died she thought to herself silently.

 

          So she snuck away before the Devils began to scan for her in the area where was last seen and waited until she could find the Mute again. Sure enough, she saw him fleeing from the scene of an attack from the gunship which gave her an idea. She returned to the Mute, having lost the ten Devils of Mustafar after her to catch up with him, noticing he took out five which left a total of twenty of those folks behind as well as forty more of the mercenaries who had originally attacked them to begin with. "Jedi, follow me to a taller building and wait for the gunship to close in on us. Once we do, I'll give you a telekinetic push to launch a jump for the gunship: you're going to see if you can take over the controls and wipe out the remainder of the mercenary force. We still have to fight forty of the original men sent against us on top of these new killers that I've never seen before plus we have to find the leader to see if we can get him to talk about who hired him.

 

           "If she hasn't been captured by Pendragon or started her mission, we might be able to warn Li about any other detachments being sent. If she's the one they want then chances are, they've sent men after her in Mygeeto that Pendragon will either destroy or pay off for the trouble. Knowing him, he might just kill them all for his sadistic games and keep her alive to torture her a while longer if he's captured her or might use their deaths as a token of good will to ensure her capture. With that Muun son of whore, there's no knowing but anyway, follow me unless you got a better plan: my demon should be seeing to keeping them busy until we can get the gunship off their possession," she said, noticing a glare that the Mute gave her about the plan.

 

            She hoped Seth could keep the Head "Devil" busy or at least kill a few more of the Devils surrounding him so that their job became easier in wiping out the rest of the platoon. Nonetheless, with or without him, Morgana began looking around for the kind of vantage points needed for her plan to work. Sure she found her answer in one of the city's main reaction valves, supplying the city with much needed electric power, with enough distance between themselves and the gunship to where they could reach it if they sprinted. So she pointed her head toward the building, urging the Mute to follow her: he had a better chance of piloting that gunship than Morgana did or a better chance of bringing it down if he couldn't commandeer it for himself. That was when she thought to tell him one more thing that he needed to know for when he took the gunship away from the Devils and into their possession.

 

            "Oh yeah and if you get the gunship under your command, see what you can do about sending the original shavits who attacked us a present. The missile kind, if you catch my drift: these new guys will be ease enough to deal with on their own once we know they're alone: I just hope Kev got far enough away from the conflict to avoid being caught no matter what happens to us. Li will like knowing that her son was safe at our expense even if she'll never completely trust me," she said. The Mute raised an eyebrow her way and Morgana merely assured him that it was simply a long story of how Li had come to mistrust her as they headed for the reaction valve where Morgana hoped the Zabrak Jedi would have enough height if he leapt into the air. Combined with any Force enhancing of his own, her help should make his plan successful. 

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           Seth ignited his lightsaber and faced down some of the Devils of Mustafar, hideous things even if their appearance was owed to elaborate costumes even if he'd heard they were even more deformed inside. Until now, he'd only heard legends of the Devils and the deeds they had performed though he had never actually encountered any of them before and the legends, he confessed were nothing pretty. He'd heard how they had haunted the mountains of Mustafar by driving out miners from the caves or killing those who dared to keep up an approach towards their domains within the lava planet. Those who didn't were skinned alive, literally, and mounted on the trophy room of the leader and it was his dream to collect one skin every single species that was ever recorded in the galaxy from the common Human all the way to the more insectoid beasts such as Kiliks. How he would collect a Gen'dai, the creatures being essentially a collection of lifeless nerves, was beyond Seth but he knew how he could collect everything else.

 

            Just then, he saw the man presumed to be the head of the Devils, confirmed when he was referred to as the boss by his men who aimed their rifles at the Weequay even if he was ready to fight to the death. "Hold it! He's a Weequay and I have yet to add a Weequay to the collection back home! I want to fight him before we destroy his friends: a skin of a Force-sensitive will make a wonderful specimen," said the leader.

 

            "Fine but you are a warrior bound by honor, yes?" Seth asked.

 

            "Honorable enough to follow on a deal. But honorable enough to keep it to skill in a fight? Doubtful... why?" asked the Head Devil.

 

            "Because I want to make a deal with you. Beat me and you may take my skin and kill my friends but lose then you die and your men turn on the mercenaries who originally hired you. Does that sound good enough for you?" Seth offered.

 

             "You make an interesting bargain, Weequay. Though you are in no place to be making demands, I suppose I could afford you this one as you are going to die anyway," said the leader, who then ordered his men to stand down but decreed the gunship should keep going on its current course. He withdrew a pair of vibroblades, the blades shaped like half-crescent moons which glimmered in what little light there was.  I wouldn't be sure if you will succeed in killing me, if I were you: I grew up in an underground prison, I escaped starvation in the world above when it was decimated by the war between the Jedi and Sith. I watched General Nobunaga's reign of terror end almost as soon as it began, lost my arm to Dantius, and survived Hyperion's betrayal at Nar Shaddaa. I do not fall easy Seth thought as he prepared to fight the lead Devil of Mustafar.

 

              Seth saluted his opponent who saluted him back, a ring of ten men watching the fight as it was about to commence. The Weequay knew the formalities as well as any Devil and knew that the man would probably try to use some dirty tricks, despite their bargain. In fact, he prayed for it so that way his victory would help him win by default and win by overcoming anything and everything the Head Devil could throw at him before he finally fell under the Weequay warrior's blade. 

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Whips    3

Li listened to Pendragon's proclimations, watching the golden sphere at the top of the stone tower. The Pilot had warned him of Pendragon's penchant for using cannibals, so if she did well it probably wouldn't be long before he resorted to using them. Li began looking around for her cudgel, smiling as she spotted it. 

 

"Okay, Penny, let's see what this hell hole has that's got everyone so scared," she muttered.

 

Li instantly crouched in the shadows, listening as she heard footsteps, spotting what looked like an guard in purple silk clothing with a basic durasteel armor and helm, armed with a simple, double edged longsword with a hand and a half hilt, the pommel a red orb of transparisteel. He had obviously been sent to intercept, test whether or not she could be killed on the spot. She hugged her place in the shadows on the wall, watching as he ventured to the seat where she had been deposited, and she advanced behind him, utterly silent, moving with her clothing and placing her feet evenly on the rough ground to reduce noise. Her cudgel was primed for a strike, and his back was to her.

 

She targeted the back of his head, whose neck was protected only by chainmail. She swung her cudgel, smiling as she heard a sickening crack that signified a broken neck. The guard crumpled face forward, dead, sword tumbling out of his hand and clattering to the ground. She ignored the sword, it was too heavy a blade for her liking. Besides, the rest of her weapons were down here...or so Pendragon claimed.

 

Li would kill every single person here if she had to. She didn't care. Pendragon would die. His secrets would be Morgana's...but they would be hers first.

 

Li decided she needed to leave the starting area, get a better idea of what she was dealing with. She took a few steps forward out of the darkened alley. She saw a street lined with torches, but a few good shadows to hide in. Pendragon had used a natural underground cavern...she could see gigantic support pillars by the stone tower, where Pendragon was getting a good view of this. He had to have spent millions for all this. How did he hide where the money went, she wondered. Lawyers? Good ones? Beneath that tower was a grid of small buildings, not going above four stories, and watchtowers lit with torches. Almost a microcity. They had not been kidding when they said it was a primitive military fortunes. She still didn't understand what Pendragon got out of this. He must be so rich he was bored out of his skull. No challenge in his life.

 

Li felt a stab of realization as she realized this might be, in a way, a foreshadowing of her own fate if she succeeded. Settled down into nice and quiet routine...and with these new powers, these new skills having virtually no purpose beyond keeping a roof over her head.

 

Where was the fun in that? Where was the point?

 

Li had hated being a punching bag on Tattooine. She had watched Morgana do virtually nothing with her power save hunt a man likely no one cared about. She was here, alive, seeing more action, more adventure, than she had ever seen. Even killing the war party that had murdered her parents wasn't exhilarating, just a hatred driven chore that was complicated by hot suns and dry sand. This...this was special. If there was anything she would ever be greatful to Morgana for, (even though she would never admit it outloud) it would be giving her the chance to experience true adventure, put her skills to the test. 

 

And test the power of the Dark Side.

 

Li ventured into the street, bolting quickly into the shadows as a pair of guards came with torches. They peered around suspiciously, having obviously heard her dispatch the runner-up. They drew their swords and stepped forward slowly, while Li hid behind a pillar with polygonal shapes painted onto its surface. She decided to test that bit of wisdom the beast had chosen to bestow upon her. She reached out, stretching her perceptions, focusing on her hatred and rage as that creature had advised, placing her faith in the Dark Side without hesitation, feeling a giddy sensation when she felt it swim up her spine. It was intoxicating. She let more of it into her, letting it fill the recesses of her mind as she tried to seize the guard's throat with the dark side. He struggled, making her struggle more.

 

She dug even deeper, The Darkness readily aiding her in her task, since she was giving herself so freely to it. 

 

With a snarl of hate, a telekinetic grip tightened around his throat.. He stiffened, coughingmuscles locking him in place as she rushed forward bringing the cudgel down on his face, smashing it with a wet but satisfying crack to Li's ears. The bloodthirst had entered her, as it had on Tattooine, except the Dark Side was amplifying it's effects. Making it take over, driving the sane part of her away...at least for now. Li's eyes fluttered in her head for a second. And then the part of her the thugs had given a name to, the part that Li had ignored with Kev's help, came out.

 

Whips smirked, striding confidantly over to the still screaming guard, putting a boot on his throat to make him stop. That thing the thug on Castell had seen in Li's eyes was out in full force and the mother of Kev was...somewhere else.

 

"Maybe if you stop shrieking long enough, you might be able to direct me to the rest of my weapons," Whips said gloatingly, delighted as she watched him shake and shiver. It was only appropriate. 

 

"Make it stop!" He begged, out of his mind with fear and pain from having no defense against her powers.

 

"Of course," she lied. "Where are my weapons?"

 

"T...They're scattered. Put into seperate guard buildings. Don't...know where which weapon was...p-p-placed in which."

 

"Good boy," she replied coldly, bringing her foot down harder and breaking his neck. She savored feeling his death, his agony...and was pleasantly invigorated, if only for a second.

 

Whips looked around wondering which guard building she should go to first. She made a note to refine her technique for future interrogations...she needed to get more info out of the next guard...and she wanted to make the suffering last longer.

 

Whips swooned, the bloodthirst beginning to wane. The bloodlust she was composed of. She could have maintained herself longer had she her mask, which served as a focus, a truth Li had subconsciously realized...and perhaps for that very reason had forgotten to take it with her. She thought about focusing on the Dark Side more to maintain this new state, free of whatever token morals her old self maintained but drawing on it so readily, so greedily, had been exhausting. So for now, the bloodlust that had been amplified and finally given persona by Li crossing this threshold thanks to the Dark Side, retreated, letting a corrupted but still sane mother wanting to see her son again reassert itself, hiding behind whitewolf's sulphur eyes, knowing Li would drawn on that threshold again...and then the bloodlust would take hold. And it would be harder to shake off next time.

 

Li blinked, knowing that suddenly she had felt like she did when wearing her mask...except it had taken only the Dark Side to conjure that state of mind that was wanton and murderous. 

 

She had felt only cold...but a pleasurable cold, one she wasn't sure she wanted to be free of. At the same time, the realization just using the Dark Side could bring her to that state, without the mask...and no longer quite in control of her actions at that...frightened her. She needed some semblance of control if she was going to care for Kev. The mask was a safety valve. A way for her to be someone else without placing her son in danger.

 

Li, deeply troubled by this revelation, ventured back into the shadows a tad more hesitantly. The bloodlust hiding behind her eyes and keeping quiet. For now.

 

***

 

The Mute looked at Morgana as though she were insane. He had barely survived getting jumped by five guys, and now she expected him to jump onto a shuttle? He was injured. And how had she made it here without getting spotted? She should do it if she was that stealthy!

 

The gunfire resumed, tearing through the walls of the apartment building they were in, forcing him to hit the ground, gesturing for her to do so. He had no idea how to take that thing out, especially as it had a lock on where they were, and would no doubt be sending reinforcements armed to the teeth in here after it stopped shooting.

 

He gestured for Morgana to find a hiding spot as he crawled into a torn open apartment, six more devils entering from the staircase below, armed with flamethrowers, which they immediately started spraying above them, hoping to draw their prey out.

 

***

 

Li moved through the streets in the shadows, still unsure about how she felt about what she had just experienced.

 

She was under no illusions that the part of her that came out when the mask came on was dangerous to every living thing around her. But the feeling of euphoria the Dark Side had given her was so incredible...she wanted to taste it again, even if it meant risking the mask state, which deeply frightened her. It influenced her actions and thoughts enough as it was, but she had always been able to shut it off before. Always...

 

But what if she could not? Worse...what if she didn't want to? How could she be a mother then?

 

As she spied a rectangular, temple like structure surrounded by a rock garden in the distance. It was simple brickwork with narrow windows, patroled by three guards with torches.

 

She looked, no real way to sneak through. She would either have to cause a distraction or...

 

Tap the Dark Side again.

 

Doubt, for the first time in a long time, entered Li's mind.

 

Li decided she needed to use it. This was a dangerous situation. Very dangerous. The creature had warned her that she needed to, for her own purposes obviously, but still the truth.

 

Li dug greedily into the Dark Side again, but digging into her own reserves out of instinct, bubbling up her hatred, her rage, her terror and uncertainty, and used that to stretch out her hand, finally getting an insight into how a certain power she had tried to refine on Castell worked.

 

One of the guards began clutching his throat, he struggled but she focused harder, easier this time, too distracted with her task to notice the bloodlust had begun to seep into every pore of her mind, tinging her vision red. She was awkward with it, and the guard still struggled, but he was clutching his throat, having genuine trouble breathing as he was sent to his knees, struggling stand, forcing a shout out between Li's unsteady grip, and getting the guards to come over. Li snarled with rage, and with great effort, and the aid of the Darkness, choked him unconscious.

 

Li collapsed to her knees from weariness...but it was Whips who rose with a cold smirk, empowered by her rage, using it on instinct to infuse her muscles, her whole body with the Dark Side, allowing her to charge forward with a savage yell at great speed, taking the remaining two guards by surprise, as they readied the swords, but Whips' instinct-driven use of Force Rage allowed her to cross the distance from her hiding place to the court yard in two and a half seconds, swiping aside a sword blow with her cudgel thanks to now improved reflexes, kicking the guard so hard in the stomach he was flung backward into a wall. The last guard made stab for her torso, but Whips spun around, seizing his sword arm and lifting him by the neck with a snarl of hatred and chucked him face first into the wall with his friend.

 

Whips swooned, the rage fading from her body, but she had loved the feeling, the mere use of it having given more definition to her own nature, and making her take root much more quickly in Li's mind.

 

She strode over, weary, and tired, but now much more in control.

 

One guard was struggling back up when he was hit by a bolt of electricity, sending him to the ground with a shriek. Whips felt his suffering, drinking it in, feeling the Dark Side repair her body and give it new energy somewhat. She delicately placed a boot on his hand, snapping all his fingers. He shrieked, only for his shriek to be cut off by Whips giving him that same unsteady Force Choke. They were all the same aliens in control of the mansion estates.

 

Whips needed the fuel to keep going, stay in control longer. The less Li had a say, the better. She had hated being stifled. All to have some boring, normal life. Which would have led her back to her being a doormat for the whole galaxy.

 

She crushed his fingers some more, and choked off his air supply with the Force, squeezing his trachea a bit too hard until she accidentally snapped his neck.

 

"Oh, drat. Gonna have to work on the pressure," Whips remarked cruelly, not sorry in the least. She went to the other Iotran. "Lets see what entertainment your friend will provide..."

 

***

 

A few minutes later, the Iotran had cracked after she had busted his knees with her cudgel. Li's knife was in there, Whips had gone to get it after breaking his jaw.

 

She had then proceeded to use that knife to slowly kill him, scalping him first, every ounce of suffering feeding the dark side, mending the wounds on her skin, feeding the innate cruelty and contempt for life this persona was composed of, a malignance that had silently taken root after that desert monster had first invaded Li's mind, a little, tiny bit of the fiend imprinting, little more than a seed, looking for the right water to grow and become terrible in its own right. It had received that water finally, a being of pure cruelty sprouting to existence when its foolish host had unwisely tapped too hard, too far, too fast.

 

Whips had gotten more information out of this one, in the end. She now knew which weapons had been taken to which guard house. She would go and get them. And then she would make Pendragon suffer and bleed.

 

She was infused enough with suffering that she didn't feel Li coming back anytime soon. In any case, she could now maintain a hateful and cruel state with little effort. She gripped the Dark Side firmly in her mind, rooting it there, accepting it without reservation, as the witch had advised Li. She forced it into her bones, drinking its power. She needed more. Thirsted for more so she could remain in control, so Li couldn't bubble up at the last second and ruin it all.

 

Whips headed down the elaborate, twisting road, keeping to the darkness...keeping an eye out for more guards, knowing Pendragon was bound to try something soon.

Edited by Whips

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       While Morgana and the Mute were fleeing flamethrowers, Seth was beginning his duel with the leader of the Devils of Mustafar. At first, the man had been honorable in his fighting with the usage of only his blades and even telling his minions to seek out the others. "Besides, I will deal with this one soon enough and the others will be dead before long," added the leader before he and Seth returned to the fight. However, before long, the leader was again using his slugthrower pistols and while Seth did roll out of the way of the shot's direct path, there were a few pellets that still grazed him though not enough to slow him down considering the thicker skin of the Weequay when compared to other humans. Considering he also still possessed the powers of the Force, he decided he would use it against the pistol, yanking it out of the Devil's hand with telekinesis before dashing toward him and forcing him back onto his swords again.

 

        "Looks like your means of cheating in this duel have been used up! Surrender now!" Seth said but the man surprised him by making use of a flamethrower and a jetpack as well, the first one to force Seth away from him and the other to give himself some space between the two of them. However, Seth saw this and knew exactly what it was he needed to do at once, leaping for the man with the Force, kicking him in the gut as he did so with enough force to knock him into a wall, separating the jetpack from the Head Devil with the way he scraped up against the wall. The jetpack, naturally, spun out of control and it wasn't long before the curves in its paths guided it towards the building where Morgana and the Mute were trapped, exploding right as the men with flamethrowers came to the room, giving Morgana and the Mute a window of opportunity to escape if they wished to take it.

 

         But the man still had a couple grenades which he threw at the Weequay, distracting him just long enough to retrieve his pistol. He fired a couple shots from it as Seth beat a hasty retreat for a more secluded part of the city to take advantage of for the killing of this leader: besides the gunship, he figured there were six more Devils which meant that unless something miraculous happened and soon, killing the boss man wouldn't make a difference. Realizing he couldn't win in the confrontation, much as he had come close, there would be no way that a victory could've benefitted anyone anyway. So he headed for the gunship, realizing that the only way to be of any significant help to Morgana and her friends was to see that it was brought down and brought down promptly. "I need three devils after the Weequay, he's going to bring down the gunship! Keep the other three on Morgana and her friends, don't let them escape!" said the Head Devil.

 

          However, the three that volunteered (that said) were probably going to arrive too late in order to aid with the gunship. Seth climbed up the buildings nearest the gunship, looked around below for anything useful, and noticed a couple dead devils still had detonators that weren't used. Calling one up with the Force, the grenade a couple dozen meters below him, Seth set it to detonate then threw it just as the gunship turned in his direction which was perfect because the pilot seat was right where the detonator landed. Seconds later, the explosive went off and it wasn't long before the gunship was spiraling out of control which forced Seth to leave at once though he would never gain the kind of momentum necessary to make it to safety.

 

            He barely had time to make it before the shockwave took him off his feet and threw him against a nearby shack which was thankfully made of wood. Seth knew he had done all he could for the lady, even if it wasn't much: the mercenaries who had originally been sicked upon her were still out there somewhere and still waiting. When he recovered a little, he vowed, he'd go after them and see what he could do about thinning their lines as well so that Morgana had the best chance of winning that he could allow her.

Edited by Seth al Ugolio

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Whips    3

Whips moved swiftly in the darkness, unconcerned with the effort it had taken for Pendragon to build a small city underground. She stuck to the shadows, where she was naturally the most comfortable. 

 

She sensed the remnants of  suffering permeating the area, creating a delicious fear and agitation she could see in the others patrolling its streets. This place must have been saturated with suffering over the years, and  she tried to draw it into herself, take in the horror and evil of this place and make it her own., but was surprised to find that there was little beyond imprints. She had a theory, one she could not be certain of, as she didn't truly know much of the Dark Side beyond instinct, but she was starting to think the reason she was so easily drawn out was because this place, even though it had only echoes of evil that it had still enhanced the innate bloodlust Li possessed, giving it form and definition as long as she drew on it, without having to wait for Li to put on a mask.

 

Meaning that as soon as she left this place, her ability to take over might gradually fade, and she would once again be under Li's dominion. The thought angered Whips. Li had been a doormat, albeit a cunning and quiet one, always ignoring her own desires for adventure.

 

The thing now calling itself Whips had first come into being when Li had given into her rage at her parents death, violently slaughtering the war party of Sand People that had murdered her father and mother through stealth and ambush, stalking them for days as they tried to make it back to their enclave. She hadn't been truly seperate from Li then, as Li had spent the next few years of her life trying to forget what she had done nearly losing all reason in her solitude. 

 

No, whatever Whips was, a fugue state, a seperate persona, or simply the real person underneath the unsophisticated moisture farmer, or some combination of the three...it had truly started to be seperate from Whitewolf when she had murdered Kolbu the gangster. Li had surrendered to madness and bloodthirst in torturing the man that had burned down her home. And in that moment, Whips had truly started to take shape, subtly influencing all of Li's actions since fleeing Castell, however, before now, it required Li changing her appearance in order for Whips to truly get any freedom. And Li always retained final control. But not today.

 

Whips approached the guardhouse, modeled much like the last one, and saw two guards standing by their posts at the front. Iotrans, just like the last three. She darted into the shadows, taking cover behind a statue of Pendragon in swirling, large robes.

 

"How come he ain't released the cannibals yet?" one Iotran asked. "He usually cuts 'em loose by now."

 

"He wanted to change the schedule up tonight," the other answered.

 

"I HATE it when he does that. It's bad enough he never gives any warning. Last time we did this I didn't see one of those mutilated freaks until they were within striking distance. Just barely managed to stab it..."

 

"Tell me about it. Last year, me and a buddy of mine were set to patrol the fountains down in the center of this place. Those drugged up nasties had made a nest in one of the alcoves. My buddy gets snatched and torn apart. They were so dug in it took me and a couple of others with flamethrowers to drive 'em out. Still can't get the smell out of my nostrils.

 

"You hear about who they got down here this time? Some sort of Dark Jedi. Lash caught her with a lightsaber and everything."

 

The first Iotran peered at the second. "Serious?"

 

"Like an earthquake. Why you think we stopped getting check ins from post zero?"

 

"How are we supposed to stop a Dark Jedi?"

 

"The bowmen will get her...eventually."

 

"But what about us?!"

 

"You signed the dotted line. You knew the risks."

 

"This is some shavit..."

 

Li was about to move from cover, the guardhouse was surrounded by a wall of stone brick, one and a half times taller than Li. The brick work was rough and primitive however, allowing for plenty of places to grab and climb...but then her keen eyes picked up a shimmer in the air next to the guards. Man sized. Faint, but there.

 

It was a stealth field. Li had seen them used before, had even learned how to work one, but never owned one. She would have to be extra careful. Pendragon had shelled out for high quality units...it had been sheer luck she had spotted it. The cheap ones light bending field shimmered more.

 

Whips moved from cover, keeping to the shadows outside the guardhouse perimeter, slowly, quietly. She got close to the wall and began to quietly climb it, and in seconds she had reached the top, pulling out her Trench knife, her dark outfit blending her in with the darkness above from the cavern. 

 

Her trench knife came out, and Whips floated it telekinetically with an evil grin, aiming the knife at the shimmer. Exerting the max amount of speed possible she sent the knife at the shimmer.

 

She smirked as the knife stopped. She heard a gurgle as the man's stealth field failed and he collapsed, causing the guard's to head over, to try and help. The knife had gone through chainmail, impacting the midsection, buried deep. Whips then sent a bolt of electricity a piece at both of them, feeling the painful sting and burn on her hand as she leapt down, removing her cudgel why the guards were stunned, their muscles having seized up, forcing them still even as they began to tumble, her cudgel reaching their unprotected face, with two swift, heavy whacks. They fell down dead. Whips grinned, enamored with her own brutality. She plucked the keys off one guard, retrieved her knife and opened the front door with the keys to its lock 

 

Inside, she noticed it was quite different, having an expensive looking red carpeting, faceted statues of Muun's made of marble, and in the center of the place lay a simple table, holding her bow and arrows.

 

Whips was no fool, anymore than Li was. She approached cautiously, looking for anything that did not belong. She moved forward, slowly. 

 

She had been just about to take a step when she noticed a seam, faint but there in the carpet. Two seams actually. On that ran horizontal and the other vertical, all the way to the table at the center.

 

Li took out her cudgel, tapping the seamed floor.

 

The floor ahead collapsed, revealing a bed of sharp, jagged spikes. And then Pendragon's voice spoke up.

 

"Well, done, disciple of Morgana. I would have been disappointed if you hadn't noticed that. Still, though, you are along fairly early. No reason to get truly excited about you just yet."

 

Assuming he could here her, Whips huffed in annoyance. "Really Penny? A bed of spikes? How...horror film. All that money, you'd think you'd come up with something original. This is pedestrian. No wonder you are so bored."

 

"I am going to mount that tongue of yours on my wall," he snapped.

 

Whips ignored his threat, instead focusing the Force to retrieve her weapons, lifting them from the table telekinetically, floating both bow and filled quiver to her direction, over the bed of spikes.

 

"My father first discovered this cavern, supported by natural pillars, when I was but a boy. He instantly had dreams of a private, hidden sanctum, though his tastes were far different from my own. He wanted to make a this cavern resemble the images he saw in his mind, wonderful floral patterns, an entire cavern as a piece of art."

 

"Sounds like a guy with a better plan than yours," she taunted as she grasped them, slinging the quiver around her back.

 

"My father lacked vision is all. I made sure to rid myself of most of it once he was gone. Those marble statues you see are among the last signs of his influence. I saw this place for what it was, a nice, isolated place for my...delights."

 

Whips heard nothing more from him but was not dissuaded. She had to get her slugthrower next but that was deeper in the complex. She turned and headed back out.

 

***

 

In the Sun Room, one of the guests, a male Bothan, was still annointing himself in the blood from the slain slave next to him.

 

"I must say, Pendragon, your Dark Jedi certainly is getting through the early parts quicker than most do. She even spotted the bowmen that killed the last one...AND she is taking the piss out of you--"

 

Pendragon turned around, walked over to the guest, smiled, and snapped his neck. The other guests cheered, not even drunk. Pendragon chuckled, bidding his slave to come over and drip more wax on his feet. 

 

"First impudent prick of the night. Ladies, gentleman, you know what to do."

 

The guests scrambled up with scalpals Lash had passed out while Whips had been making her way to the second guardhouse and immediately began slicing and cutting into the dead Bothan, for no other purpose than a rush and to collect a souvenir. They were prepared to do this to each other also, in the event Pendragon decided one of them was to die for angering him.

 

Pendragon looked at Lash. "Triple the patrol in the central sector, and prepare for the release of the cannibals. I want her hearded in. And in case the cannibals do not succeed, I want you down there to finish her off. She has insulted me for the last time. But do try and give a good show of it when you do. Nothing boring, okay?"

 

Lash smiled wickedly. "As you wish, milord Pendragon." 

 

The purple Twi'lek walked out of the chamber, heels clicking as she walked past a guest caressing a lump of Bothan flesh.

Edited by Whips

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Whips    3

Lash and a pack of mercenaries entered the staff turbolift to the hidden microcity in Pendragon's cavern. The cannibals were ready to be released by the staff in the security section of the mansion above. But in truth she was looking to kill the Dark Jedi herself. Li had humiliated her one time too many. The only caveat would be how to do it in a way that would not anger her employer. And she wanted this. The cannibals would overwhelm her but that would deprive Lash of feeling Li's blood on her fingers.

 

She licked her lips at the thought of how tortured and labored that Dark Jedi's death would be.

 

"Remember boys...I'm the only one who spills her blood. You are to merely prevent her escape. If she dies at your hand, you die at mine," she warned them. They all wordlessly nodded their heads, powering up blasters but setting them for stun. She got out her lightwhip, the hilt a black color with no shroud, but a spiked pommel. Li's lightsaber hung from a sash around her waste, a trophy really, but useful in case the whip wasn't enough.

 

As the turbolift reached the cavern's bottom and opened, Lash heard snarling sounds. Familiar ones. She started swearing mentally as Pendragon contacted her on her earpiece.

 

"Pardon my releasing the cannibals ahead of schedule, but frankly, my dear, your motives are transparent to me. Just making sure you stay on task."

 

"Of course, milord Pendragon," she said suppressing her frustration at the thought the cannibals would kill the Dark Jedi before she could.

 

"New plan, boys, switch to lethal, shoot anything that snarls at you. They're loose now."

 

The armored mercs started swearing violently. 

 

***

 

Whips worked her way through darkened streets, sticking to shadows and avoiding the patrols that had suddenly gotten heavy in number, bearing torches.

 

She stuck to natural allyways made by the buildings after that, though the patrols were starting to explore them also. Whips soon realized she was in a dragnet. They were now systematically hunting her.

 

At one point, desperate to evade detection, she had climbed an open window into a darkened room. She crouched under the window, huddling, as a guard came by and used his torch to peer into the room. Whips dared not even breathe. And even if she hadn't been just a hair's breadth from detection what she saw when the torch lit the room would have stopped her breath all the same.

 

They had all been made to stand in a corner, facing the wall. The skin had been flayed off. And they had been impaled on spikes. They had clearly been human, in varying ages.

 

The part that was Li shivered in horror and disgust at Pendragon's insanity. Whips ignored this part forcing more hate to the surface to keep her buried. The natural taint of this entire cavern aided her greatly. 

 

Soon the guard stopped looking and Whips moved through the darkness, noting the smell from the corpses. As she moved through the house in near darkness she noticed more flayed corpses positioned in the corners, and she got the disturbing feeling this wasn't the only house down here Pendragon had decorated like this.

 

She found steps that led up a floor and went up it silently hoping for a window she could climb out through or even just reach the roof.

 

Her danger sense kicked in and she quietly got out her bow and drew and arrow from the quiver knocking it, and drew the bow to full draw and fired where she sensed the dangerous life force, hitting the invisible archer who had been perched at the top in a small adjacent bedroom filled with a rotting corpse pile.

 

Whips quickly went over and searched the corpse, the arrow having gone through the archer's eye. She took his credit chits from his wallet. 

 

She heard snarling and screaming however, and immediately rushed to the window, watching as snarling, starved, emaciated men and women in scraps and fragments of clothing, mostly naked, charged through the streets, tackling the unlucky guards who were too close or too slow to draw their swords. They were swarmed, like a tasty dead insect gets swarmed by a pile of ants. She saw blood splattering where guards fell. Others were brutally hacking away at the weak men and women, driven mad by a combination of drugs that increased aggression and damaged the logic centers of their brain as well as torture and starvation. Whips didn't care. The weak would die in the wild. It was only natural. 

 

She heard snarling down stairs, suspected those flayed corpses would only buy her so much time and crawled out through the window, just barely reaching the top of the roof from her position and pulled herself to the top, just as the feral pack of monsters reached upstairs. 

 

She heard blasterfire, and her danger sense ratcheted higher. These cannibals were a nuisance. Whatever had come with those blasters was the real problem. She remembered where she was in relation to the rest of this gigantic abattoir Pendragon had constructed. The guard house containing her slug thrower was nearby. In fact, in the distance she could see guards falling back to the square building with purple banners draped over it. For a second she questioned the wisdom of trying to reacquire it in all this chaos but Whips eventually realized she had no choice. The slugthrower was the only one with range, the only one with true stopping power if all else failed.

 

Whips made a plain jump unassisted to the next roof, looking for a relatively empty street where she could continue her way unimpeded. She broke into a run when she climbed down from the roof top and made a short drop to the street, heading directly for the guardhouse, which was now filled with guards. A cannibal leapt from the shadows, only for Li to bring it down with a hammer blow from her cudgel in mid-leap, smirking as she felt the starving man's skull shatter against it. She continued her run, away from the blaster fire, sticking to the shadows in case not all the patrol were running for their lives. She heard the shrieking and snarling of the cannibals behind her along with the death screams of plenty of Iotrans. The ripping and tearing of flesh loud even at this distance. As she closed the distance between her and the guard house her knife came out and she put it in her teeth and began quickly using the uneven bricks and natural hand and footholds of the way the place had been built to ascend to the third story as quietly as she could, by climbing up the corner of the building, the smell of blood becoming intense. She made her way carefully to the third story, though she nearly lost her grip when some of the brick crumbled. She heard the shrieking grow louder as she took a peak through the window, assuring herself no one was there, before carefully and tentatively climbing in, just as she heard footsteps on a nearby staircase in the stone structure.

 

She ducked behind the solid wall serving as railing for the staircase as two guards headed up, each checking a seperate window.

 

"The sick bastard released them at a different schedule than normal!" One grumbled. "What the hell's his problem?! He know how many rookies were out there tonight?"

 

"Look at it this way, if they figure out how to survive you know they belong!" another joked morbidly, without an ounce of humor.

 

Whips rose silently and crept to the nearest one, sticking her knife inbetween the armored plates on his back and shoving it in. He managed a single gasp that got the other guards attention, only for Whips to grip his neck with the Force, making him choke. He fell to his knees, gasping, as Whips pulled the knife out of her first victim and with a smirk, took aim. She tossed the knife hard, aiming well, and struggled not to laugh as the blade went cleanly through the man's eye and sank into his head deeply. She walked over, releasing her force choke and pulled the blade out of the corpse, completely absorbed in her carnage, plucking a set of primitive metal keys from the dead guard and heading to a nearby closed door with a built in metal lock. She began testing the ring of keys on each lock, until a rusted one finally opened the door.

 

She stared. Her slug thrower rested on a simple wooden table with a pouch of ammo next to it. 

 

Li smiled...and tossed her knife into the face of an archer hidden by a stealth field. It was the drawing of the bow that had given him away, not her Force Sense. She saw the knife stop in mid-air, disrupting the field and revealing the Iotran archer, whose face looked to be in a state of shock.

 

"Nice try, Penny," she remarked under her breath, grabbing the slug thrower. Checking it. It still had the ammo she had loaded into it from earlier.

 

She smirked. Now her chances of survival looked considerably improved. As she put it in the empty holster slung over her back, attaching the ammo pouch to her belt.

 

Then she heard it.

 

"DARKSIDER! I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE! COME OUT AND FACE ME!" Lash shouted from outside.

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Whips    3

Whips cursed. It was the Twi'lek. She got out the rifle as she heard a shuffle of guards start rushing upward.

 

Whips flip-cocked her cut down lever action rifle one handed and cackled, opening fire into the hapless guards as they tried to get closer to her, charging up the stairs, a bullet going through a bare face. The other guards, realizing she had a gun, and that their armor, designed according to extremely ancient methods, wasn't ever meant to go up against even simple fire arms, retreated, some jumping out the windows on the second story to evade her bullets. After seven shots, she was out of ammo and the one remaining guard decided to be brave, charging up and swinging a sword for her face. Her rifle dropped and her knife came out, ducking his sword swipe and driving her knife between the plates in his abdomen, kicking him backward, he swooned by charged forward with wild, ferocious swings, desperate to behead her.

 

She clenched her hand, and invisible tendrils of the Force closed around his body, immobilizing him, causing him to drop his sword when he could not quite swing and Whips sprang forward driving the knife upward between the plates, into his heart. He dropped, dead.

 

Whips sheathed her knife and grabbed her rifle, loading more bullets into it. She would have one chance against Lash to get this right.

 

She headed downstairs hesitantly. Lash had the advantage and she knew it. That strange lightwhip had reach but she suspected it would suck at actually blocking, meaning Lash would have to constantly move. Plus, given its length...she would also need room.

 

Whips got an idea. If Lash wanted to get her, she was going to have to come in to do it. She went to the nearest window. "COME IN HERE IF YOU'RE WOMAN ENOUGH!" she shouted back.

 

Whips heard Lash shout for her body guards, and cursed mentally. She'd give Lash credit; whatever other things the Twi-lek might be, stupid wasn't one of them. She ran back upstairs and climbed out the window she had originally gotten in through, and continued to climb upward quietly, even as she heard shouting from inside the primitive stone building. In the distance, she heard the shrieks and howls of the Cannibals in the distance growing louder. She continued to climb silently until she reached the top. Crawling on all fours.

 

She got out her rifle, taking careful aim, and fired at Lash's center of mass.

 

The Dark Jedi dodged it, to Whips unpleasant surprise and jumped a seemingly impossible distance towards her, as the shrieking of the Cannibals in the distance grew closer. Lash's bodyguards still outside the building opened fire at an approaching pack of them. 

 

Whips had seconds to react and did the only thing she could, force pulling the woman out of the air and sent the flailing Dark Jedi crashing to the ceiling. Whips backed away as Lash sprang up in pure rage, slinging the tip of her flexible blade at Whips face only for Whips to Force pull Lash closer, making her stumble and making her run face first into the blond woman's forehead, which crashed into her nose sending her swooning backward, and she dodged Whips gunfire more out of desperation and instinct than talent. She retaliated with another erratic strike to her opponents midsection and Whips bolted left to avoid the blade, scrambling forward and tugging her sash off when she spotted her lightsaber hanging from it. Her blood-red blade shot out and she barely parried a secondary strike whose tip scorched her shoulder badly, leaving an ugly burn on her right shoulder. She fell back as Lash drew her whip back for another strike. In a desperate move, Whips dropped off the side of the building, driving her saber into the building itself, slowing her descent just enough that she reached the bottom at a safe rate, even as she heard frantic snarling behind her.

 

She barely managed to swipe her blade forward in reflex and cutting through three cannibals. She thoughtlessly swiped through four more that got too close, showing zero mercy, momentarily lost in her bloodlust as she started to gleefully cut through the pack of beasts. Lash's shout of rage broke her from her merriment and landed beside her, and the two were suddenly attacking eachother again, the Cannibals having been momentarily scared off.

 

Whips slashed with murderous abandon forcing Lash to dodge her violent hacking and counter with swift twirls of her whip, forcing Whips to back off.

 

"Im guessing this isn't how you imagined your evening going," Whips cruelly mocked.

 

"You're DEAD!" Lash snarled in fury, bolting forward, nose broken from Whips earlier headbutt.

 

Whips charged forward, throwing her hate into her strikes, and when Lash tried to ensnare Whips blade again, Whips struggled tugging backward before she got an idea. It was crazy enough it might work.

 

Whips struggled as best she could, making sure the tension was as tight as possible for Lash's whip...and let go of her blade, Force pushing the entangled saber forward using the momentum from Lash's pulling attempt to aid its direction. Lash screamed, unable to move away as the entangled saber tumbled through the air towards her, slashing through her left arm, carrying the flexible blade of her own whip past her in its wild tumble with Whips blade and ensnaring her shoulder, part of the flexible blade going through Lash's right leg and wrapping around her neck. Lash dropped, screaming in horror and agony as her own blade ate through her flesh, burning through her lekku and eventually her neck, severed head and brain tails tumbling from a rapidly burning body, both blades starting to burn through the ground itself, though for the lightwhip it was taking longer. Whips rushed forward, grabbing both blades, carefully untangling them, even as she heard the Cannibals starting to rush forward.

 

Without really thinking about it, she flicked the lightwhip tip into a cannibal's face, taking its jaw off, her past experience with whipping people to death giving her some minor, albeit crude insight into how the weapon worked, as well as picking up a few things based on how Lash had worked the weapon, though her use was far cruder, and much less crisp than the way Lash had wielded it. It was just really simple, experimental twirls and slinging, and a few times she pulled back on the weapon, she had to dodge the Whip blade to avoid its former owner's fate. Once the Cannibals were driven back once more she looked at Lash's corpse and spat on it.

 

"That's what you get for being eye candy," she said mockingly, shutting off the Whip and clipping it to her belt.

 

The body guards outside were dead, eaten alive by the Cannibals. She saw one defender in the stone building, one of the bodyguards Lash had sent in to force her out staring.

 

"You...you killed her..." the Iotran bodyguard said. "All these years and no one managed to get the better of her...until you..."

 

Whips eyed him with pure contempt. This one didn't seem interested in fighting. Seemed she had beheaded the snake.

 

"Tell me, does Pendragon have anything left? Perhaps if your info is good enough I will allow you your life."

 

"Most of Pendragon's entertainment is dead or worse by this point. You're the only one who has ever lasted this long. Maybe you can escape...maybe you can kill the evil prick..."

 

"How so?"

 

"Pendragon was always paranoid that one day not even his money would be enough to buy his life if the guards turned on him for his crimes. He has a "doomsday" switch installed in the cavern somewhere."

 

"What's it do?"

 

"It activates hidden tunnels in the cavern that lead up to the mansion itself...but this means anyone, including all these cannibals would be able to get inside. Plus, all the security turrets would turn on the guards inside the mansion and on the mansion grounds. Like I said, Doomsday."

 

"Where is it?"

 

"At the only place in this entire death trap that truly contains the last of his father. At the exact center of this place. Don't worry...you'll know the building when you see it."

 

"How come you know of it?"

 

"I've worked here for years, found out about it by accident when Lash let something slip about a few months back. Me and Lash used to be kinda friendly, at least as far as a Dark Jedi gets to being friendly with the help. She could have cut my head off after realizing what I knew but instead she just gave me a warning to not utter a word. But she's dead now, and the only reason I stuck around was because she was easy on the eyes, but now that you kriffed that up," the bodyguard muttered, "I got no reason to continue working for the crazy nutjob that owns this place. I got no reason to lie at this point. Now will you spare our lives?"

 

***

 

Whips walked out of the guardhouse two minutes later carrying three severed Iotran heads.

 

"No," she answered, tossing them next to Lash's corpse, which was already being taking apart by the Cannibals.

 

Edited by Whips

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Whips    3

Whips ran as fast as she could, the Cannibals loose everywhere, snarling and huffing as she gave chase. The men were busy fighting for their lives, caught off guard by Pendragon releasing the cannibals earlier than usual. She ran past crude stone houses and flickering street lamps. She saw fires ahead of her. Flame throwers. It didn't matter. She had her weapons back, plus one new one. Let them try and stop her. 

 

She flashed on her blood red lightsaber, tapping into her rage again, letting it soak her brain in fuel and light a match. She saw in red as she spotted four more guards ahead and without even pausing in her stride, brutally sliced through them in a wide arc even as a pack of cannibals continued to chase her through narrow cobblestone streets.

 

***

 

Pendragon was silent. Everyone was silent in the Sun Room. He watched, fists clenching together as Lash had died in the most grotesque manner possible. She had let her anger get the better of her, and now Morgana's student was running to the exact center to get to his insurance policy. Morgana, it seemed, hadn't chosen some halfwit. She had picked someone able to adapt and think on her feet.

 

Lash had been right. This one HAD been too dangerous. Not only had she lasted far longer than anyone else, she was now in genuine danger of humiliating him again and turning his own doomsday switch against him.

 

One of his guests, a human woman, drunkenly rose. Pendragon didn't even remember her name at the moment, so beside himself in his rage.

 

"Well, this is new. Pendragon at a loss for words," she joked. Her beauty somehow marred from the depravity she had engaged in already despite her raven locks and fair skin. 

 

Pendragon dashed over to her with Force assisted speed and snapped her neck. She dropped where she stood.

 

"Boil her," he instructed the other guests, while he got out his comlink, watching with mild amusement as the guests dragged out a large cauldron from the built in kitchen in the walls. While the dumped the impudent woman in the giant pot, Pendragon got out his comlink.

 

"All guards on the outer estate, withdraw. This is a direct order. You are to proceed into my inner sanctum and stop the woman attempting to reach the center of it by any means necessary. Fail, and you will suffer ten times what Lash suffered. Get moving."

 

Pendragon threw down the comlink in a rage. "Cook!" he shouted at the guests.

 

***

 

Kev ran through the tunnels hearing hell unleashed in the distance. He was out of breath. He stopped, struggling to take in air.

 

It was all that witch's fault, he thought, struggling to breathe. Not Morgana. Not really. Ryleya. It was all her fault.

 

A horrible thought came to him suddenly. What if his mother hadn't really made it out from The dead witch's tower? What if...what if the witch's magic had somehow...remained.

 

What if Kev had never won that day? What if, in ending that bloated thing's life, some...small piece of it's evil had escaped in his mother?

 

Kev didn't want to think of the other possibility. He couldn't. Couldn't stand the idea that his mother might have always been that way, deep down, and he couldn't see it...or wouldn't...

 

They should have run. Run to the core worlds. Run for the thickest part of the underworks they could find. At least there any wickedness his mother pulled would have been limited, lost in the drone of a thousand other crimes and victims. He should have been more forceful, more a lot of things.

 

That settled it, he thought. Morgana had to go. They had to take her down by any means. And then...Kev somehow had to convince his mom to let go of her powers. The more she used them, the more she wanted to use them. The more horrible she would get. Morgana had been a far more savvy con artist than his mother had given her credit for. She had completely upended everything. Kev ignored the fact that their troubles were his mother's doing.

 

He did not see the red hands until they reached out to snatch him. Hands belonging to a grinning devil.

 

Kev screamed as the Devil of Mustafar seized the boy, clapping a hand over his mouth.

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Whips    3

Whips finally reached the center of the city, sticking to the shadows, and almost groaned as she spotted the building. It was a pyramid shaped building covered in white and gold tiles, with statues of a Muun...presumably Pendragon's father lining all four corners of a building five stories at its peak. The statues of the robed Muun had rotating cameras in their hands. Whips heard the snarls of the cannibals in the distance and knew she had to move in now, risks be damned.

 

She sprinted forward. Timing her sprint when the rotating camera turrets moved away. Her lightsaber flashed on and she drove it into the Pyramid's outer wall, cutting a hole in as quickly as possible, knowing she didn't have long. The thick cut of wall soon collapsed inward. She rushed inside and blinked.

 

It was a maze of transparisteel walls, and some kind of droid, one she had never seen before, tall and imposing. It was lanky with a cylindrical torso and tall, sphere-like head with a red ocular sensor swiveling left and right. She spotted in its skeletal, human like hands something silvery. A lightsaber.

 

"You've got no chance, Dark Jedi. My droid is a Czerka Prototype specially modified and programmed by yours truly," Pendragon snarled over a hidden intercom. "You may have lasted longer than anyone. I'll even give you credit for killing Lash where all others had failed...but your success stops here. You want that failsafe? Its at the center of that maze. Don't think about trying to cut through the walls. Those walls have special sensors. They feel anything go above them or feel so much as a blaster bolt, the explosives under the floor detonate. Or did you think I'd be so stupid as to put a transparisteel maze without a failsafe as well?"

 

"Whats to prevent your droid from tapping the wall and detonating them to stop me?" Whips asked.

 

"Because I'm getting a show, one way or another. And even if you figure a way through the maze, that droid will stop you cold. So go ahead, Darksider. Go ahead and make your vain attempt at glory."

 

"You actually sound pissed for once Penny. You know what that is? Fear,"  Whips sneered. "I'm making you look bad ain't eye. Seems Lash was your poison pill, and my inferior in more ways than one. See, you know if I reach that little failsafe you are out of luck. This little mock playground comes crashing down. Which leads me to wonder...why would a man so desperate to stop me warn me about the only thing that could possibly save his ass at this point? You didnt warn me about the pit in that guard tower," Whips pondered, stepping forward to the maze entrance. "And that's because I don't think there are any explosives. After all, if the failsafe was meant for you to reach, you wouldn't risk such a lethal trap when it could easily backfire, especially if a foe was in pursuit. No. You are trying to use fear to slow me down. Problem is, Ryleya already taught me considerably about fear," Whips snorted, tapping her active blade against the wall nearest to her. No blast.

 

"Nice try, Penny," she gloated, gleefully cutting the wall down. "You're a bad pazaak player." 

 

"You insolent little shavit," Pendragon snarled, no ounce of bemusement left in his voice. "You think you are special? You are nothing! A stain Morgana collected on a rag! Your success is merely luck! As my guardian will prove! And then I will mount you on a wall after having taxidermied your corpse!"

 

"If all that is true, Penny, tell me...why you yelling?" Whips asked. 

 

No response.

 

"Its finally hitting you, isn't it?" Whips asked slicing through yet another wall to get to the center. "You've enjoyed the high life, feeding into your decadence for so long you don't remember the thrill of real struggle. Of overcoming adversity. So you hide in these walls, hide from what a joke you've become as you throw your pointless little parties."

 

Whips sliced through another barrier, the Droid going active.

 

"You mock Morgana for her shortcomings, but really Penny. How are you any better? At least Morgana is largely a self made woman, and she earned her skills and actively maintained them. But you? You are a rich malcontent. You insult the Dark Side with your lack of struggle. You hide, like a worm under a rock. I, on the other hand, earn my victories, meager though they are at the moment. The Dark Side favors me this day. And this day will end with your blood on me," she snapped, cutting through the final barrier.

 

The droid sprang forward, orange lightsaber flashing on. Whips' lightwhip was out, the tip being flung experimentally at it.

 

***

 

The droid, despite its stockiness, was surprisingly agile and deftly avoided the  whip, bringing its orange blade down in a style Whips didn't recognize, forcing her to roll out of the way of its heavy overhead attack. The droids feet was wedded to the white and gold tiled floor, and Whips twirled and flung her new weapon's blade at its legs, forcing the droid to back off, which was good for her as it allowed for time to think.

 

She wasn't sure she had the physical strength to attack it or defend against it head on. Had to improvise, but how? The snarl of cannibals outside quickened her blood, and she relished the intensity of the moment. She fed on her fear of dying, using it to stay in control, keep Li under longer and prevent her from ruining it.

 

The cannibals poured through the hole Whips had made and she grinned. "NOW ITS A PARTY!" she yelled, bloodthirsty. 

 

Her bravado was rewarded when four more droids of the same build erupted from hidden platforms in the floor's hatches. It seemed Pendragon didn't leave much to chance after all.

 

Her weapon twirled anits tip sailed towards the nearest one's chest, forcing it to deflect the tip but not before the flexible blade bent around its orange straight one and scored a deep burn mark across a cortosis chest.

 

The other droids rushed her, and the screaming, dirty cannibals rushed in also, mindlessly attacking the droids, but also mindlessly attacking her also, swiping at her head.

 

Whips cackled, giving an experimental twirl which violently slashed through the faces of four of her victims, giving herself to her rage, instinctively increasing her speed and strength. As she began to slash and twirl with wild abandon and cared only that her blade hit something solid, and since the cannibals were swarming her, the stink of their madness on already greasy, pallid skin, the whip ended of slashing and grazing into a lot of them, incapacitating some on the sheer pain of being hit. The droids, however, began cutting their way through the swarm to reach their true target...

Edited by Whips

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Whips    3

As Whips flicked her weapon left and right, the Droids finally got within range. One struck out, a vicious horizontal slash that forced Whips to backaway, still not proficient yet at using the whip to zone her opponents. she flicked it into a high twirl, before bring the rope like weapon down to wrap around the hand of one droid, which immediately caused it to hiss and smoke, the metal of its hand glowing as the heat from the whip took its toll, though it still didn't cut through the way a real saber would have. The droid pulled back, its hand disabled, but it resumed attacking with its good arm. The other three droids charged, and Whips was forced to duck and dodge wide, heavy slashes from that strange fighting style she had never seen before, while retaliating with wide slashes of Form One and flicks of her flexible blade, which bent around the blades of the droids as they tried to crowd her, the strike from her whip hitting two of them in the face, throwing off their vertical attacks but only just barely, as Whips was then forced to retreat towards the cannibals still rushing in, slashing through them with her pilferred weapon and enjoying each delicious death howl from them at the same time. The droids whose ocular sensors hadn't been damaged by her last attack pursued, violently hacking through the snarling insane men and women to reach her, when Whips having cleared a group of them out from her general vicinity twirled her weapon to the unarmored leg, of the closest droid and yanked, pulling its legs out from under it only to get her head nearly cut off by the remaining droid, which attacked with strong stiff slashes designed to beat her into submission.

 

Whips was once again forced to retreat, flicking her whip through more cannibals even as she backed off to the other end of the room, forcing it to go through any foe her weapon had not sliced through in the retreat. But it hacked through everything eventually, severed parts flying everywhere, throwing the screeching beasts off of it to advance. She snarled and lunged forward with a series of twirls and cracks, seemingly talented at her new weapon despite having never used it before now, and the thing was forced to back off, trying to parry the weapon but not truly programmed to react to do so...another foolish mistake of Pendragon, given who his second in command had been.

 

Whips was able to get the tip past the droid's parry attempt, slashing into its durasteel neck, creating sparks that came from ruined power feeds and circuits. The thing sputtered and died, dropping to the ground. The other droid she had yanked to the ground was being violently pried apart by a locust swarm of cannibals applying animal strength fueled by insanity. The last two droids were stumbling around with their ocular sensors damaged, she slashed her way through the mad victims of Pendragons depravity. Not because she felt death would be a mercy for what they were now, but simply because they were in her way, and she found she took great delight in causing them pain. That maliciousness fueled her persona, every flick of the whip and howl of agony a note from a violin to her warped perceptions as she slashed and slashed through the hoard with her weapon, finally reaching the droids, still blinded, and used the whip to slash the joints in their legs, the heavy robots falling down as she brought a boot down on both their necks, breaking them and rendering the droids non functional. 

 

She would have stayed to slaughter the rest, but there were too many, and with the last droid fallen, there was no need to stay. She went to the golden door they had been guarding and kicked it open. She quickly shut it and through the large bar ont a specially built catch in the door to hold it close.

 

It was a golden button on a pedestal, under a beam of light surrounded by darkness. She started to go to it as the Force rage started to wear off, but stopped. She took one of the remaining arrows from her quiver and tossed it. Slug thrower bullets rain out peppering the ground the arrow hit.

 

She looked up. She spotted them at last, turrets hidden in the darkness.

 

With one last exertion, she pressed the button by using telekinesis to force it down.

 

"Caution. Fail safe activated. Good Luck, Pendragon," a female voice announced.

 

Whips snorted at this. Pendragon was truly pathetic, wishing himself good fortune.

 

As the rage wore off, the exhaustion set in...and a new problem arose, for while Whips had tapped the Dark Side deeply to survive the previous fight, it had taken much of her strength to maintain her immersion in it, and thus, her control of Li's body. And with this massive vicious expenditure, she simply did not have the energy to concentrate on being her any longer. Even the darkness of this place could not help now. So Whips murderous, vicious nature began to fade, melting back into Li's subconscious, who went cold and started shaking uncontrollably in terror at how good being Whips had felt. Li could not ever risk letting that...thing...near her son. No telling what would happen. 

 

"Ah! You survived!" called a familiar, female voice.

 

Li turned to the right of her, and spotted the Woman in the Gray dress, coming out of some kind of cloaking field.

 

Li backed away, knowing she was no longer in any condition to even attempt fighting off the beast. The blindfolded woman smiled, stepping forward. Li took another step back.

 

"Still having trouble truly controlling your darkness. Don't worry, happens to the best of us," the Woman said. "But you have activated the failsafe in this place...all the exits are opened. Beyond me is an elevator that will take you right to Pendragon's quarters...where he will have men surely waiting to kill you. But I can help, if you will let me..."

 

"No need to play mysterious benefactor. I know what you are. Who you are. You're that...demon I ran into on Tattooine."

 

The woman smiled..."Well," she continued, "Since we no longer need to play with pretense..."

 

Li struggled not to be sick as the woman's features bulged and distorted, the entire surface area of her body going a sickly, pallid white as the dress disappeared to become part of skin while thin, greasy rags erupted from hidden pockets of flesh to cover sickeningly little on a gross, slick and greasy, bulbous form that just finished growing a pair of Lekku out of it, the face shimmering like wax as it took on an ugly, wooden face with wrinkles and a long, crooked nose. The eyes opened, pus yellow orbs that glimmered disgustingly in the darkness like fresh mucus from someone with influenza.

 

The creature floated to her, dirty looking toenails inches off the ground. "You will need one gift more from me in order to survive. Unfortunately, I don't have time to teach so we're gonna have to do this the hard way..." Ryleya hissed.

 

"What's the hard way? And what do you get out of this?"

 

Ryleya laughed. "I rarely run into Dark Siders with such a potent natural talent as yours. There are Sith apprentices who study for months, and never make it past a challenge like what you just did. And even the ones who do are often barely alive afterward. Such a thing must be nurtured, to further the will of the Dark Side. The Empire is stagnant...its Sith are trapped by their own overconfidence, and I sense it will be their downfall. Many of them will die, more than likely when that downfall comes. And when the rats get driven into the shadows, its the perfect opportunity for fresh blood to rise to the occasion, keep the Dark Side healthy with cruelty and slaughter and greed," she proclaimed. "You can either embody the darkness of chaos, or the darkness of Tyranny, like the Sith do, should you choose to go to them. But this is a dangerous time for you now. Pendragon is weakened but he is still formidable. I reccomend an indirect route to his defeat. And the hated Jedi, once they learn of your existence will attempt to destroy you on convert you to the hated light. But you must keep to the Dark Side. It is the true path, the sweet path. Morgana's aims are limited and I sense her time is drawn nearly to a close...but there is more like me...more OF me, I should say."

 

"What of my son?"

 

Ryleya glowered.

 

"If he is your only chain...than that chain, like all chains, must be broken. I thought I had gotten my previous prospect to understand this, but he is...resistant to belief on the Darkness and its aims for its own sake. At the end of the day, your only true love must be the Dark Side."

 

"I won't kill my son!" Li screamed, horrified, then angry. "And if you come near him..."

 

Ryleya scoffed at this. "Oh, relax, I'm not as strict about this as some other masters would be. Besides, the severing of the chain must be done by the one bound to it. It would mean nothing if I ended Kev. Besides, I was telling the truth when I said I have too much respect for him to try. We'll cross that bridge when you are strong enough to cross it."

 

"And if I'm not?" Li demanded.

 

Ryleya scowled at her. "Than the higher mysteries of the Dark Side, of power, remain out of your reach. And I have no further reason to stay interested in you. But I have confidence in you...that darkness in your body screams for freedom. You need only stop fighting it. Let it take over. You'll be reborn."

 

"Into what, a mindless machine of death and savagery?" Li accused.

 

Ryleya shrugged. "If you want."

 

"But whats the point? What's the Dark Side's point?!" Li shouted in confusion.

 

Ryleya stared. "The Dark Side's point is to make those born with the Force embrace their full potential," she answered quietly, patiently. "To embrace what they truly are, free of limits. Free of the perceptions, the memes that bind the rest of a corrupt and degenerate galactic society. A hypocritical society. The Dark Side imposes death for all forms of weakness. By slaughtering the innocent, we show them how lacking they are in defense. By creating chaos, we show them how their peaceful ways teeter constantly on the brink of failure for lacking the strength to make it better able to handle disruption. By taking away the freedom, their happiness, we reveal how it was all built on a house of cards just waiting to collapse the moment someone tipped it. We reveal them the truth...WE are the ones who are free, not they. Because we have the strength to kill and fight and grow stronger and risk death for our goals, whatever they may be, while they are forever roaches, hiding under the robes of the closest Jedi Knight they find, or behind the slave-soldiers of bloated and inept Republic that can't even bring order to the bowels of its own capital planet. If they were truly strong, truly steadfast, all followers of the Darkside would be obliterated wherever we rose, because they would be proving wrong our assertion that we knew better. Instead, all they can do is reduce us to a handful, and then like a bacteria grown resistant to medicine, we spread and infect the organism again. They have never truly defeated us, and they never will, because, to paraphrase something I heard from a butler I met in a shuttle once, they aren't willing to burn the woods to the ground to flush out the criminals."

 

Li stared and to her cold disquiet, found she agreed with a lot of what Ryleya said.

 

Ryleya moved closer. "Let me help you, welp."

Edited by Whips

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Whips    3

Li stared at the vile, fat creature proclaiming itself her benefactor. And it was clear that unlike Morgana, Ryleya was the real deal darksider.  Extremely dangerous. 

 

Li knew it was a bad idea but this wasn't her first time breaking into a place full of security. The Demon was more than likely telling the truth about security waiting. 

 

"What are you going to do?" Li asked.

 

Ryleya smiled, and Li cried out in pain, clutching her head as she dropped to her knees, Ryleya held her hand over Li's head.

 

It felt like her mind was being split open, something new being shoved into the recesses that hadn't been there previously. It was pain she had rarely experienced as new knowledge settled in.

 

"That should be enough to see you through the rest, Ryleya finished gleefully. "The technique is called Force Camoflage. Though your stealth technique is superb, the shadows can only hide you so well. And be warned. Other enemies amass at this place's gates. Don't try and hide from more than three at once for now...you aren't strong enough. Now, feed on your pain for strength and go forward, young Dark Sider...what Morgana sent you for is in the very next area...but no doubt the cannibals will be everywhere. Along with any guards that have not fled."

 

Li rose up, feeling sick. "And what of you?"

 

"My part is done...for now. But only you can decide what you want to do from here. If the Dark Side truly calls to you...if you truly wish to make it your own, then finding me will not be difficult," Ryleya answered, her disgusting form deflating and folding back into itself...and taking the form of Li herself, black armor and all.

 

"Only you can choose to go forward into the darkness. What sort of existence will you have otherwise?" Ryleya answered, her eyes still that nauseating, slick pus yellow color. "You can be so much more than a criminal. You can be a force of nature. I kept track of you after my defeat...you were aggressive when the odds were in your favor...but a doormat otherwise. Don't waste your gift. Embrace it. Embrace the Dark Side..." Ryleya finished with a smile that somehow seemed revolting despite her now beautiful appearance. "I will buy you some time. Make Pendragon think you are still down here while you are making your way to his quarters.

 

The shapeshifter went to the door, lifting the bar keeping it in place and striding out to face the cannibals on the other side with an active red lightsaber. The real Li, in the meantime, headed towards the VIP turbolift, hitting the button labled "Private Quarters".

 

Her head swam from the intrusion but she undid the service latch and headed up it as the turbolift moved upward. She took the moment to catch her breath, make sense of the new knowledge in her head.

 

The turbolift trip was a speedy one, and Li got out her knife as it reached the stop.

 

Unsurprisingly, she heard the sounds of blaster fire pepper the inside.

 

"Check the service hatch! Gotta make sure!" one Iotran Guard yelled.

 

Li knew she had seconds to act, and the pressure was on. Nothing forces perfection like life or death. As soon as the hatch flew open, Li reached out to the mind of the Iotran as he pulled himself through, straining brutally as he balanced his feet on a hand rail and peered in her direction. The sharp pain in her head was agony but the Iotran didn't see her.

 

"Nothing here! She set up a distraction!" The Iotran man grumbled, getting down. 

 

"Well then lets go shore up the east end! Damn cannibals are pouring through the entrances Pendragon just HAD to put in under the damn floors!" One of them yelled.

 

Li waited until they were gone, and collapsed on the turbolift roof, panting. Her Force reserves were utterly exhausted at the moment. Everything hurt. Everything. But Li knew she had to keep going. To stop was to fail Kev. Had to reach Kev. Had to. 

 

Had to hold him again.

 

The Dark Power called to her from within, but she ignored it. Whatever was so terrible down there that brought out that evil creature in her was far enough away that the evil was back under her control. For now...

 

Until she put on her mask again.

 

Li forced herself up, dropping through the hatch and collapsed into a heap on impact. She pulled herself forward, dragging herself painfully along the ground. She was right back where she started. Pendragon's private room. After a few moments, she pulled herself up, beginning to search the room for what Morgana had sent her to fetch. She imagined even Pendragon wasn't stupid enough to leave it in the open.

 

She began looking for hidden switches, buttons. These pretentious artsy rich types liked to be clever, hide the means to their secret stash in plain sight. Problem was, this was all being searched by a woman who was a master of hiding in plain sight...it wouldn't stop her for long.

 

Her eyes settled on the picture of Morgana cradling her dead sister. It made sense, him hiding it with who he hated most...that saying about keeping enemies closer popped into her head. She went over to the painting, running her fingers on its back edge. She felt a switch flick and a wall parted in two, revealing another chamber full of Pendragon's personal belongings.

 

Li smirked and strode in, observed worthless looking nicknacks on display, and then spotted the only thing Morgana had sent her to obtain. But it wasn't a scroll. It was a datapad, resting on a pedestal. She strode forward and picked it up. It was locked. There was a phrase displayed on the screen.

 

"Type in the Sith Code."

 

Morgana had told of this code. In a rather off handed manner. Li thought the code strange, its scope limited and impractical for everyday applications. If you were truly superior, why shackle yourself to ANY code? If the whole point was being able to do as you saw fit, when you saw fit, then wasn't the Sith Code itself just another shackle in the end, to be abused, ignored, taken advantage of and exploited mercilessly in others who took it seriously? But given that Pendragon had made it the key, Li suspected the interpretation of the code went a little deeper than that. In any case, she wasn't sure she was capable of caring, so long as she achieved her objective. If that meant abusing some code a group of dogmatic fools took too seriously for their own good, then she would do it.

 

Uncomfortably, as she typed in the code, she felt the evil in her stir...react to it...she fought down the feeling of ecstacy from the murderous creature in her chest, apparently enamored with the Code by its very nature. The Sith Code called to it.

 

The display unlocked, and Li gazed at a bunch of notes and journal entries she couldn't quite make sense of, was too exhausted to even read in detail, and stuffed the datapad into a travel sack she found next to it, along with a transparisteel container filled with red and orange synths and decided it was now time for Pendragon to die.

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Whips    3

Pendragon watched, in shock as it all played out over his screens. The cannibals rushing through the hidden entrances of the mansion itself. His own depraved party had fled only minutes before and he was at a loss for what to do. His top enforcer was dead. His little game had been beaten. His failsafe was triggered.

 

He...might actually have to fight.

 

He was not unfamiliar with the concept. He had fought more than his fare share of battles when he had still been a Sith apprentice. The thing was...he hadn't done it lately.

 

Not a serious problem. He still had a good command of the Dark Side. As good as Morgana's apprentice had proven to be, she was still a novice at the Force. He could kill her, but given how she had gotten the better of Lash, he would have to put some effort into it.

 

He watched as his fleeing guests were torn apart on his viewscreen. The only thing he could count as fortunate was that he himself would have an easy time getting through his hoardes of self created monsters. Morgana's apprentice had destroyed a large chunk of them as it was. He had been a fool. Even someone as wanting as Morgana could occasionally find themselves a rough diamond. And Morgana had found a particularly large one in the dirt.

 

Pendragon, still in his lewd garb, dragged went to a nearby panel on a wall next to his viewscreen and retrieved a backup weapon. It was the same one he had trained Lash with.

 

An Orange lightwhip snaked forward from a jeweled hilt of black metal. Pendragon coiled anger and hatred in his heart but it had been a while since he had actively called on the Darkness for anything more than a Force Choke. The Darkness still filled his body eventually, albeit sluggishly. But it was still his to command.

 

Just as Pendragon turned and march off to find Li and kill her for ruining his night, he failed to notice on one monitor screen that a group of armored, devil themed mercenaries had just kicked open the front door, having tracked Li to here. And as much as he had let his skills dull, he didn't sense them. At all.

 

***

 

Li had just made it out of Pendragon's lavish personal quarters, creeping down darkened passages lined with ancient armor lined behind Transparisteel cases and slaughtered, chewed bodies, both guest and guard. The power had been mostly killed by the failsafe activation so Li was in her element...darkness.

 

Her lightsaber and newly acquired lightwhip were clipped to her belt, and she had set the other weapons and her prize save her dagger aside, knowing it would only slow her down when she went to face Pendragon. Defeating him in truth was not required of her...she had already achieved her objective, and gotten Pendragon's secrets. But Pendragon had angered her greatly. And the thing trapped inside her was thrashing around, begging for more. Begging to emerge. Li figured killing the Bastard would quiet it for a while.

 

She sensed the threat just as she descended the palatial front staircase to the main entrance, which was a black and white checker pattern lined with strips of red running horizontal and vertical on the floors and walls, from what she could make out in the greatly reduced lighting. A square, golden chandelier hung overhead, the center composed of crystal. 

 

The armored mercs that looked like devils burst through the front door, kicking it open. Li retreated, hiding behind a pillar lining the staircase, her dagger out. She was still too drained to call on the Dark Side or the Force in general, and given the number, who were significantly better armed then those jokers underground, she wasn't quite certain she was ready to take fully trained warriors on yet with her lightsaber in such an exhausted state. But she would do it if left with no other choice.

 

However, Li's strengths had always lain in stealth. She was an artist at it, and her skill had been gained and scrounged at, and reached a point that would have made any soldier, perhaps even a spy jealous. Give her a knife and a dark room, and she owned the room. This was just a slightly larger, dark room. And that meant she had plenty of options.

 

Li wasn't stupid. She knew their vision was likely enhanced. And that left a problem. She would have to isolate them and take them out one by one. But it was doable. The Sand People of Tattooine after all, had excellent night vision. It hadn't saved that war party in the end as she chased them across the desert. It wouldn't save these men.

 

As some of the men moved upstairs, equipped with automatic scatterguns, Li retreated further up the steps, and silently used the raised filigree on one pillar to climb up it quietly as possible...and waited as a few of them went past her underneath. The black armor helped blend in with the dark shadows overhead. As she dropped down silently, landing carefully as possible and making no noise she began to creep up on one merc who was lagging behind, covering the rear of the first two. She spotted the gap between the helmet and chest. She sprang forward, blade sinking into the soft black tunic underneath, severing the spine. He began to drop but Li made sure his drop was quiet and assisted, and lay him down gently, pulling the knife out and dashing forward swiftly, quietly. She spotted a knife, clipped to the back of left most mercs armor. She checked it at a distance. No strap holding it in

 

Steadying her breath, she moved closer to that merc even as the devil themed fighters went down the passage of gore and dead bodies. With a deftness that bordered on the ghost-like, she plucked the knife so quietly from its sheath and so swiftly that the merc didn't notice. In one swift motion, she tossed the knife into the gap between the helmet and chest of the right-most mercenary and when the one she was standing directly behind turned his head in surprise, Li reached out and twisted the head further, so that the merc was staring directly behind him when he fell dead, his neck broken.

 

Li smirked, checked their pockets, and found what looked like a durasteel garrote. She seized it immediately, smirked and then proceeded to the grand entrance hall to finish the others off.

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